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South Eugene Rowing Club

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SERC?

South Eugene Rowing Club is a collection of 40+ teen athletes who row at picturesque Dexter Lake, comprising the area’s only junior rowing program. SERC teaches students how to “pull together” and have fun while working hard. Crew does not have tryouts and interested athletes do not need prior experience to join. Each new rower must pass a swim test which is the only requirement to joining the team. First year “novice” rowers learn the basics of rowing in eight-and four-person boats. Varsity rowers also row eights and fours as well as a variety of smaller rowing shells. For additional information please see the Our Club page.

Can I try rowing?

Yes! We offer a free trial at the beginning of each season. Just register online and come to a few practices. Please contact our head coach at [email protected] to get more details on practice times and what to expect.

Who can participate?

South Eugene Rowing Club is open to all 8th-12th grade students within the greater Eugene/Springfield area, including students from private, alternative and home schools.

What are the benefits of joining crew?

We strive to build a team-oriented program. Our student athletes develop personal character, time management skills, an ethic of cooperation, and physical fitness within the ultimate team culture of crew. Athletes learn how to train, race, and work together as a team. In rowing, more than any other sport, no one individual stands out. To succeed, everyone in the boat must work together. Through daily workouts and travel to regattas, the athletes build strong friendships, respect, and bonds with each other. Rowing is both an anaerobic and aerobic sport, that provides a maximum, full-body workout. Rowing is a low impact, non-contact sport, that builds muscle and endurance while being easy on the body.

How long is the season?

The crew season consists of fall and spring water practices and regattas as well as winter “dry land” training. The team uses South Eugene High School as its base where it receives access to facilities at the school. Water practices take place in a beautiful natural setting at Dexter Lake. Winter training is an essential time for athlete strength and conditioning and workouts on “erg” rowing machines. Athletes are strongly encouraged to continue aerobic and strength conditioning throughout the year. Competitive racing events (regattas) occur throughout the Northwest. Athletes do not need to participate on all 3 seasons. They can choose to participate in each season individually.

When do athletes practice?

Our practices include both on-the-water and land sessions. Practices are after school from 4-7:15. Our water practices are held at Dexter Lake; land practice is held at South Eugene High School. Typically in the Fall season the novices have three to five days of water practice, and the varsity teams have five water days, all occurring after school. Winter training is held at SEHS from 5-6, five days a week. In the Spring we have six days on the water; Mon-Fri after school and Sat morning. Specific practice times and events for each season are determined by the coaches. Bus transportation is typically provided to Dexter Lake for weekday practices.

What is the difference between a 'Head' race and a 'Sprint' race?

From late September through early November the team competes in a number “head race” regattas throughout the Northwest. Head races are run over a course of 2-7 kilometers. Instead of being a distance race, it’s raced against the clock, with the goal being to have the fastest overall time with as few penalties as possible. Crews start 10-15 seconds apart, allowing for faster crews to overtake slower ones along the course. Due to the length of the race, the cadence is much lower when compared to a sprint race. Head races are aptly nicknamed “the coxswain’s race” due to the winding turns along the course. Navigating these turns as efficiently as possible aids the crew in achieving a fast overall time. In comparison to the spring season, the fall season is usually shorter in duration. SERC usually competes in three-to-four races during the Fall season, ending in early November with the Head of the Lake regatta in Seattle. In contrast to the fall, the spring season is made up of shorter sprint-style races. Sprint races cover a straight course of 1-2 kilometers. They’re rowed somewhere between six and eight minutes and at a much higher stroke rate than their head racing counterparts. The goal of the race is to cross the finish line first, similar to a track and field race. Anywhere from 4-8 boats are lined up at the starting line, either through a floating start or on stake boats. The starting marshal will utilize one of the various starting calls followed by “Attention, GO!” to begin the race. The race is an all out sprint. The season itself lasts from early March until the middle of May. SERC usually competes in four or five races during that period, including the NW Regional Championships in Vancouver, WA. The training is much more intense and unlike fall racing, begins a few months before the actual season starts, during a period known as “winter” training. During winter training SERC participates in land training only.

Who coaches the SERC team?

Our coaches are professionals with a deep passion and commitment to the sport, chosen in large part for their ability to communicate with young people. In addition to their extensive rowing and competitive experience, our coaches hold U.S. Rowing coach certification and are trained in boat safety, boat rigging and repairs, trailer towing, first aid, nutrition, and injury prevention. For additional information see our Coaches and Volunteers page.

How much does it cost?

Club dues are paid twice a year at the start of fall and spring seasons. Dues for the fall and spring seasons typically run between $800-$900 per season and vary due to a number of factors, including how many regattas are attended by the team. Winter training is included in the Fall season fee. Winter-only season dues (for those that don't participate in the fall season) are around $300 because there are no regattas during the winter; only land-based training. Unlike other club sports, rowing dues cover a variety of expenses, including:
- Bus transportation to/from practices at Dexter Lake
- Equipment upkeep and safety
- Professional coaching staff
- Liability insurance
- Boathouse & dock maintenance
- Launch boat supplies and maintenance
- Regatta entry fees and meals during regattas

Families also incur additional out-of-pocket costs for USRowing membership ($45 in Fall 2019), uniform costs ($90 in Fall 2019) and their own transportation costs when travelling to team events.

How are parents involved?

Parent involvement is a vital part of sustaining and growing the club which helps keep dues as low as possible. Volunteering is an integral aspect of crew. Parents prepare and serve food during regattas, assist with fundraising projects and recruiting efforts, and manage the operations of the club. Many bonds are shared among athletes and families in the community of this family-friendly sport.

Will rowing help my student get into college?

Each year brings an opportunity for rowers and coxswains to attend colleges on partial or full scholarships. Rowers/coxswains may gain admission to colleges they might not have attended had it not been for their rowing experience. Graduates of SERC have gone on to row at such schools as Brown, Harvard, the University of Washington, Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, Dartmouth, Tulsa, Virginia, UO, OSU and other private and public schools. A commitment to the sport, with its full-year schedule, daily practices, and teamwork frequently helps students develop time management and communication skills. Watching universities and colleges recruit our seniors and expand their opportunities is a shared source of pride among teammates, families, and alumni. For additional scholarship information see College Rowing & Scholarship Opportunities.

What do you call that part of the boat?

Outside The Boat
The boats (or shells) are basically of two types and reflect the two forms of rowing: sweep rowing and sculling. In sweep rowing each rower handles a single oar (about 12.5 ft or 3.9 m long). In sculling a rower uses two oars, or sculls, (each about 9.5 ft or 3 m long). Each rower has his or her back to the direction the boat is moving; power is generated using a blended sequence of the rower’s legs, back and arms. The rower sits on a sliding seat with wheels on a track called the slide.
Boat – the boat itself; sometimes referred to as the shell.
Bowball – small rubber ball that covers the end of the bow; intended to prevent/reduce damage upon collision.
Fin – the fin under the stern of the boat which helps to keep the boat on course.
Rudder – a small, movable part, usually metal, that sits under the stern of the boat; allows the coxswain to steer the boat.

Inside The Boat
Originally made of wood (some still are) rowing shells are now usually made with layers of carbon fibre, fibreglass and plastic. These boats are extremely lightweight and narrow, allowing the rowers to slice through the water. Each rower sits on a sliding seat that rolls on wheels along a fixed track called the slide. The rowers wear shoes which are bolted onto footplates in the boat. Each oar is held in place by riggers, which extend from the saxboard. The rigger holds the gate in which the oar sits. The gate is carefully set up so that the oar is held in the water with a specific amount of pitch or tilt. This is usually about 5 degrees at the midpoint of the stroke although it does not change through the stroke.
Cox Box – a device used by the cox, consisting of a microphone and speakers, that amplifies the cox’s voice throughout the boat during the race.
Footplate or Stretcher – fixture in boat that contains shoes screwed into a piece of wood. This contraption holds the rower’s feet into the boat and is the only part of the boat where the rower is firmly attached.
Gate – the small plastic part at the end of the rigger that opens at the top. The rower opens the gate, places the oar into it, then shuts the top metal bar, screwing it tightly shut. The gate holds the oar in place during the rowing stroke.
Rigger – The metal support attached to the saxboard that holds the gate.
Saxboard – this is the top side of the boat, the edges onto which the riggers are bolted.
Slide – the tracks underneath each seat which the wheels of the seat slide on, allowing the rower to move back and forth in the boat, utilising their full leg power.

The Rowers
Each person in the boat has a position, starting in the bow. The person closest to the bow is called bow seat. Every other seat is called by the number of the seat, except the lead rower, who is the stroke. For example a crew in a four would be referred to as bow, 2, 3, stroke. In an eight it would be bow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, stroke.
Rowers (sometimes called sweep) have one oar each, while scullers have two oars each.
The boat is steered by the Coxswain (cox) or by the bow seat (in boats without a coxswain – called “coxless” boats). Cox’s use the rudder to steer the boat, which they control using cables that are connected to it. The cox is also responsible for motivating the rowers, helping them keep their pace, helping to correct technique and to unify the crew.

Want to know more about rowing?

Rowing is a unique sport. For more information on crew see this Wikipedia article. You can also read our Participant Handbook.
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