Rowing a single scull is an exceptional, full-body exercise that most anyone can learn, though it can seem a bit awkward at first. Our coaches have successfully taught hundreds to row with skill and confidence, and they know how to lead you past the initial awkwardness to the exhilaration of a proper rowing stroke.
The Novice Program (Learn To Row)
Our two-day program will train you in the basics of sculling and safety on the water. Successful completion certifies you to use club shells – usually the Maas Aero. The two, 2-hour sessions, with a maximum of three students per session, can be taken on consecutive days or separated to fit your schedule. Ideally you should complete the sessions within two weeks.
- Cost: $175 per person for the full course. Includes participation in a Fundamentals I clinic after completion, and a $30 credit for your first club boat use or membership.
- Class length: Two 2-hour sessions on separate days; best if you can schedule these no more than a week apart.
- Time: As of January 2015, Novice Programs can be scheduled Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Novice 1 session is usually 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., the Novice 2 session is usually 8:45 – 10:45 a.m.; weekday times may be different depending on coaching schedules. To reserve a space in a Novice Program, call OWRC at 415-332-1091 or email us.
- What to bring: We provide all rowing equipment. Wear relatively close fitting and flexible clothing appropriate for the weather and warm socks (no shoes in the shells). Sun protection is advised.
Outline of the Novice Program
Novice 1 session
The first day you won’t venture far off the dock. The class covers the basics of sculling in a controlled environment.
- The mechanics and finesse required for the rowing stroke
- The boat and oars
- Boathouse etiquette – moving the shell to the water and setting it up.
- Getting into and out of the shell.
- Proper grip on the oars
- Practicing the stroke at or near the dock
Novice 2 session
- Review of what you learned in the previous class
- Rowing with your coach near the dock and then out into Richardson Bay
- Practicing proper technique – both body positioning and blade work
- Local landmarks, where to row and safety on the water
- How to handle a capsize and other potential issues
After successful completion of the course you are officially a sculler! As a novice rower will be certified for the appropriate boat – usually the Maas Aero. After that, you may take part in a Fundamentals I clinic, offered Tuesday early mornings and twice a month on weekend mornings. That clinic is an opportunity to begin exploring the waters of Richardson Bay with other new scullers, accompanied by a coach and an experienced OWRC member. Thereafter, you can use the credit that comes with the Novice Program to take a club shell out on your own to further explore the expansive waters of Richardson Bay (the large arm of SF Bay that fronts Sausalito).
Novices may not go beyond specific landmarks that your coach will discuss with you, and our staff will not allow novices to launch if conditions are too rough, but this is rare and reflects the importance we place on your safety. There is plenty of room in the protected waters of Richardson Bay for you to train and develop your rowing. Many experienced rowers rarely leave it.
The most important task for the newly minted rower is to get experience in the boat. “Time on the water” is what the coach will prescribe, and he or she can help you choose rowing routes and a training regimen that will develop your skills. While you gain experience you’ll be burning calories, building fitness, enjoying fresh air and sunshine and getting to know the natural world of the bay.
The next goal for most novices is the additional coaching available in the weekly Fundamentals clinics, which will help you improve your technique, while rowing in the company of others at your level. Once comfortable in the shell, you can join the weekly Advanced Training clinics which will help you develop strength and speed, as well as provide a significant workout. You may also choose to move from the Aero to a more challenging open water shell, the Maas 24 or Flyweight; to do that, you would schedule a private coaching session, which includes a “roll-over” test to ensure you can successfully get back into a capsized shell.
After enough time rowing within Richardson Bay, many members are interested in longer rows – out towards Angel Island, the east side of the Tiburon peninsula or Cavallo Point. To be certified to row beyond Richardson Bay, members must take the Rough-Water Clinic, which will equip you to handle tidal rips, winds, and chop that frequently occur in the more open waters of the main San Francisco Bay.
Even if you prefer to stay within Richardson Bay (as many club members do), the Rough Water Clinic is a smart and recommended step when you are ready. Expect to row for a year or so before taking that step, however. As always, speak to our staff about your specific skill level and conditioning.