Apr 22 2017
The races had been cancelled, but I drove to the rowing club anyway, hoping that the wind would not be strong enough to prevent me from crossing the lake and then row in the canyon. The canyon can be windy as well, but the waves never reach oceanic sizes.
Here is the lake when I arrived at the club. I thought it would be just rowable.
When I got out of the dressing room, the wind strength had increased and the waves were much higher. I had an idea. Why not take out our new “Golem”?
This is the Golem:
“The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, also known as the Maharal, who reportedly created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto from antisemitic attacks and pogroms. Depending on the version of the legend, the Jews in Prague were to be either expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. To protect the Jewish community, the rabbi constructed the Golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava river, and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations. The Golem was called Josef and was known as Yossele. It was said that he could make himself invisible and summon spirits from the dead. The only care required of the Golem was that he couldn’t be active on the day of Sabbath (Saturday). Rabbi Loew deactivated the Golem on Friday evenings by removing the shem before the Sabbath began, so as to let it rest on Sabbath. One Friday evening Rabbi Loew forgot to remove the shem, and feared that the Golem would desecrate the Sabbath. A different story tells of a golem that fell in love, and when rejected, became the violent monster seen in most accounts. Some versions have the golem eventually going on a murderous rampage.”
I didn’t go on a murderous rampage. At our club, “Golem” is the name of our new LiteBoat. It was thus named because of the sturdy design of the boat, compared to our racing singles.
So I took the LiteBoat. I needed help to prevent it from being thrown on the dock by the waves, but when I finally launched, it was big fun.
I did a quick circle in one of the choppiest part of the lake to check that everything was OK and then I took off for a longer row. Rowing this boat is hard work and you go slow, but still it resembles rowing quite well. It is like rowing in a single with a strap around the boat, or sitting on an erg with a very high drag factor.
Well, the erg comparison is actually quite off. Being outside on the waves, with the wind blowing through my hair, and the boat sometimes rising during a stroke and then falling on the water with a stomping sound was quite exciting and definitely a three dimensional affair, compared with the one-dimensional erg.
Here is how slow I went:
It seems the SpeedCoach didn’t always pick up the stroke rate correctly in the wavy environment.
First, I rowed in the headwind to the north end of the lake. Then I turned around. Turning around is a very funny experience in this boat, if you are used to turning a single or a quad. The first time I did it, I nearly spun two rotations. Because the boat is so short, there is very little resistance to turning, so when you are pulling as hard as I do when you turn a single, you get yourself into a spin.
This turning behaviour was also funny when you end up on the top of the wave. Sometimes the boat and me would glide off a different side of the wave than I expected, turning the boat at the same time.
Well, after I turned (and did another turn at my maximum boat turning speed, just for fun, with some anglers watching me in bewilderment), I rowed to the south end of the lake, where the waves where the highest. In the tailwind I managed a “fast” pace of 2:50 per 500m. I did some tests at 27 spm (which was about the fastest I could row this boat) to see where that would bring me.
The final stretch from the south end of the lake, back to the rowing club, was great. In a full headwind and with big waves, it was fun to try to anticipate how the boat would pitch, roll and yaw. I got really wet but it didn’t matter. I was extremely happy.
After 50 minutes I returned to the club. I did a short erg cooling down and that was that. This is big fun. I think I would really enjoy real coastal rowing. The waves on the sea must be even higher.
Here is a short video from the LiteBoat manufacturer that shows how it can be rowed on the Sea by beginners: