Getting Started : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

I'm a reasonably fit runner, who also kayaks, and am very interested in getting a basic rower for use on local lakes and rivers. My "rowing experience" is limited to using the Concept2 rower at my gym 2-3 days a week for the last few months. I live in an area where there are no rowers (at least I've never encountered one in my paddles on local water). The closest flatwater team is at a small college about an hour or so away. I'm interested in buying a basic rotomolded rower like those built by Alden. Is it reasonable for me to assume I can teach myself, possibly with the help of books and videos? Or is this foolish? Family and work commitments mean that getting lessons would be a challenge, unless I could find someone associated with this College crew an hour away who would be interested in providing them.

-- Robert Walters (, January 08, 2005


Yes its reasonable to think that you can teach yourself to row using books and videos. I did just that last year about this time and everything has gone pretty well. I purchased two books from the local Borders Books here in Orange County CA.They were Essential Sculling by Danial J Boyne and The Art of Sculling by Joe Paduda. Both are listed at the Open Water bookstore as well. I started out in a 16ft. Stonington Pulling Boat with a row wing rig in it and moved on to a Maas 24 after about 3 months. If you own a viedo camera it would be a good thing to get someone to tape you as you learn so you can compare what you are doing to what you should be doing. The one video I've seen on sculling is called Sculling 101 by Brad Lewis I believe. I know that it is available thru JL Clothing here in Calif. and I'm sure its available at other locations as well. Good Luck Scott

-- Scott (, January 08, 2005.

Rob, you shouldn't really have any trouble learning to scull on your own. Just be sure and choose a boat that provides a stable enough platform that you don't need to spend too much energy on trying to keep upright, let your energy go into working on your form and technique. I started rowing 22 years ago when I bought an Alden Ocean Shell. It was a great boat to learn in, and as my abilities improved, I got to where I was comfortable rowing in any type of conditions.

I also was self-taught. I read some, and tried some. I found a little time and patience would go a long way toward learning not only how to row, but more importantly, how to enjoy it. A good book for begining is "Rowing", by Bruce E. Brown. It's a little bit simplistic, but for the new rower it's a good place to start.

You might want to shop around and see if you can pick up a deal on a used boat to start with. They can usually be had at a considerable savings over buying a new shell. Then if by chance you find that the sport really isn't for you after all, it can probably be sold with little or no loss to your wallet. And if you find you really like it, it's good trading material as you find your taste or desire for a particular type or style of boat changes. Frankly I've driven my wife crazy over the years with buying and selling shells. I'll have one for a while, see another for sale, buy it, and it then becomes my favorite. That is until I see another one. I started with the Alden, since then I've had everything from Wherries, to Aeros, to a Pro Am 25, to a Kingfisher, and I've loved each one of them in turn. I think in all I've had 12 or 13 boats, but the one I have now will be my last, at least until I see another for sale.

I wish you well in the sport Rob. It's not just a form of exercise or sport. It can be something that becomes a part of who you are. There is nothing better than being on the water, early in the morning when you have the lake all to youself. At that point, all is right with the world. Take care, and God bless you Rob.


-- Rich Hundahl (, January 12, 2005.

You can teach yourself to row, but STAY AWAY from the rotomolded Alden!

-- Kinley Gregg (, January 22, 2005.

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