Learn To Row

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 2017 Novice Program (Learn To Row)

Our three-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 three, 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: $225 per person.
  • Class length: Three 2-hour sessions over three days; best if you can schedule these consecutively or no more than a week apart.
  • Time:  The Novice Program sessions can be scheduled during the week or on weekends. Weekdays sessions can be scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – call for times as weekday coaching schedules vary. On Saturdays and Sundays, the first Novice Program session runs from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; sessions 2 and 3 are from 8:45 – 10:45 a.m.  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

Session 1

The first day you will work close to our dock. This session covers the basics of sculling in a controlled environment.

  • The mechanics and finesse required for the rowing stroke
  • Orientation to the equipment
  • Boathouse etiquette – moving the shell to the water and setting it up.
  • Getting into and out of the shell.
  • Proper grip on the oars
  • Elements of the rowing stroke
  • Practicing the stroke at the dock

Session 2

Instruction_2On day 2, accompanied by your coach, you will practice the rowing stroke in a stable, single shell on the bay waters outside our marina .

  • Review of what you learned in the first session
  • Practicing proper technique – body positioning and blade work
  • Learning basic maneuvering techniques
  • Local landmarks, where to row and safety on the water

Session 3

On day 3, accompanied by your coach, you will continue practicing in a stable, single shell on the bay near our marina.

  • Review of what you learned in the second session
  • Practicing proper technique – body positioning, blade work, steering, maneuvering
  • Reviewing landmarks, right of way, where to row and safety on the water
  • How to handle a capsize and other potential issues

After Certification

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.  Novices are certified for the more protected part of the bay; your coach will show you the landmarks of those protected waters.  Our staff will also ensure that you don’t launch if conditions are too rough for your skill level, 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 of our experienced rowers rarely leave it.


What’s Next?

Handling sloppy water with a grin - it can be done!
Handling sloppy water with a grin – it can be done!

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 Coached Workout 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.