UCF sophomore coxswain Katherine Kutash will be providing a behind-the-scenes look into the Knights varsity rowing team each week on the KnightLines blog with "Kat Out of the Bag".
By Kat Kutash
For a rower, racing is divided into two very different seasons: fall and spring. Just as the weather in these two seasons differs greatly, so does the style of rowing.
Fall races are roughly 3 miles long, and are executed in a style known as "head racing." A head race is essentially a race against the clock, with the objective being to complete the course with the fastest time. In a head race, boats are not started all at once, but in approximately ten second intervals. Head races are rowed at a much lower stroke rating, due to their length. Due to the long and often winding nature of these courses, it is especially important for a coxswain to steer the straightest and shortest course possible, since errors in steering will slow down the boat's overall time. The fall racing season is much shorter than the spring, with teams typically competing in two to three fall races a year.
Ask any rower what their favorite time of the year is, and their replies will be the same: the spring. Just as fall racing is slow and controlled, spring racing is its counterpart. In collegiate rowing, spring races are 2000m (just over one mile) and are often referred to as sprint races. Sprint races are completed in about seven minutes and are rowed at a much higher stroke rate than fall races. In a sprint race, all boats are lined up together and started at once. Unlike head racing, the racecourse is a straight 2000m and the objective is to cross the finish line first. At the start, all boats are aligned evenly, with about 5 feet between each competitor. After the official calls, "Attention, GO!," all boats essentially sprint off the line with one objective: to get their bow across the line first. Typically, the last 250m of a spring race is a dead sprint, although each boat will decide if and when to begin their sprint. It is in this last section of a sprint race that every athlete is emptying their tank. Until the horn sounds at the finish, rowers and coxswains are giving it their all to win their race. Sprint races are the ultimate adrenaline rush, and any rower will tell you that there is no other feeling like winning a sprint race.
The spring season is much longer than the fall, with teams competing in on average seven races. Both seasons always prove to be grueling for rowers, coxswains, and coaches alike, but in the end it's an addictive sport that creates a unique bond for everyone involved.
See you then!