My saddest days are those when I am scheduled to row, but can’t because of the weather.
Fragile boats, being water-based, and even the weirdness of rowing facing “backwards” mean weather conditions affect you more than in land-based sports. Here are some depressing circumstances that will mean strapping into an erg or lacing up running shoes instead of rowing on the water.
(NB: as a novice rower, there are times when you’ll be kept on shore while more experienced rowers are on the water. Please, expect this, know that it’s for your safety, and embrace it.)
High winds/whitecaps: High winds can blow you everywhere, making staying in control a tough proposition. High winds also mean high waves (whitecaps), which can fill your frail rowing shell with water—sinking you into the water, and perhaps even breaking your boat. So while the rest of the world is enjoying a beautiful, sunny, but windy, day, it’s conceivable that you won’t be able to row. Ouch.
Fast water: As a river rower, this keeps me on land more often than I’d like. Eddies abound, kicking your boat around like a feather in the wind, and sometimes you row in place because you can’t overcome the current. (Most rowing clubs have policies that restrict rowing based on water speed, water temperatures, and the experience of the rowers involved. Follow them carefully.)
Dangerously cold water: The heat leaves your body 32 times faster in cold water than in cold air. Falling in is never completely out of the question, and that could be catastrophic in water below 50 degrees. Add cold water to fast water and high winds, and you have a no-row cocktail.
Lightning: The chance of a strike in the middle of a lake or river is too great to risk it. This is reason why many rowers like the early mornings for their workouts—less chance of thunderstorms that brew later in the day.
Fog: On the other hand, if fog is an issue, afternoon rowing might be a better choice. You can’t row if visibility is limited. Lights on your boat can mitigate this sometimes, but if fog socks you in, you aren’t going out.
Tornado/hurricane/typhoon: Stating the obvious: if sirens are wailing and the National Weather Service lights up your phone like a Christmas tree, rowing shouldn’t be happening.
So what can you do when you can’t row for real? Watch rowing in the comfort of your own home! Check out the next post: The Best (?) Rowing Movies.