Tips for Novices & Their Families

Rowing 101: Boats and Crew

Click here to read an easy and quick fact sheet on boats and crew.

Watching the races

Give yourself plenty of time to drop your rower off at the checkpoint, park and get to the river.

The GA tent is set up about 300 yards downstream from the St. Joseph’s boathouse, below the Strawberry Mansion bridge. You can also watch the races from the grandstand at the finish line further downriver.

Please expect to help with set up of the tent if you are one of the first races of the day. When you sign up to bring food, you’ll want to time your donation to when your child is rowing that day.

On chilly days, it will feel 10-15 degrees colder at the river (especially before the sun comes up over the rise behind the river) and it is often windy, so dress in layers. Rowing takes place in most weather conditions!

There is food and drink at the tent for rowers and guests. (Thanks, parents, for the coordinated effort!)

There are portapotties near the tent site.

You might like to bring a folding chair, binoculars, cow bells and a camera with zoom or a camcorder.

Set a good example for the rowers, and wear sunscreen!

Be sure to ask your child the color of the boat they will be racing in.

New to the sport? Don’t know your scullers from your sweepers? Check out US Rowing’s introduction to rowing, especially the viewer’s guide. You might also want to check out this post, with a video from World Rowing on “How to Watch a Race.” You’ll have a whole new appreciation for your child’s accomplishments!


Your daughter/son can expect to get blisters on their fingers and hands.*
They are painful but calluses develop fairly quickly.
Gloves do not help.
Do watch for signs of infection.

*(Many rowers consider their blisters a status symbol of the progress they’re making!)

Rower clothing

The rowers are exercising hard and don’t get as cold as you would think.

Tops: on cold days, layers work best. “Under Armour” or polypropylene long underwear makes a good base layer when it’s cold. Unlike cotton, these will keep your daughter or son warm even when wet.

Remember that close-fitting clothes work best. Baggy sweatshirts will catch your hands and interfere with a smooth rowing motion.

Bottoms:  On cold days, spandex tights or polypropylene long underwear under close fitting shorts work well. Sweat pants and very loose shorts tend to get caught in the slides of the moving seat.

Even when it’s cold, you need sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, water bottle and Chapstick.

Cold feet?  If this is a problem, consider light Polartec socks.

Click here for more advice on what to wear.