FSRA State Sweep Start Line Information

The following is a message from FSRA to Coaches, Coxswains, and Rowers. 

With potentially windy conditions at Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park, don’t forget to practice start line procedures. Please review the following to help eliminate frustrations for the crews and officials and to allow everyone to enjoy a safe and fair regatta.


Start Line Instructions

Nothing starts your team off on the wrong side of a referee faster than not being able to maneuver a boat in the starting area. To keep relations between officials and crews on a positive level, it helps if crews and coxswains come to the start line with prior experience on:


1) how to back their boat to a starting platform/stake boat and;

2) how to scull the bow around into the wind to maintain their point.,


Coaches should make sure ALL crew members (not just those who normally sit in the bow half of the boat) know how to do these maneuvers prior to attending any race event.


Item 1 - Backing a Boat to a Starting Platform/Stake Boat

Coaches, please take a few minutes with each of your crews and have them back their boat into your hands while you are sitting in your anchored coaching launch and/or on your dock. To make this drill more realistic, try doing it on a day when there is wind. Understanding the effects of wind are best learned before getting to the start line of a championship regatta.


On race day, wind direction will determine which side of your assigned start platform you pass when rowing through the start line bridge - always go to the upwind side. If there is a head or cross wind on the course, you want to use the wind to help push you into your stake boat holder. Wind direction is misunderstood by many crews and as a result they have a lot of needless sculling to do to bring the bow of their boat around into the wind.


Here are two helpful articles:



Item 2 - Sculling the Boat’s Bow Around into the Wind / Keeping Your Point

First a big don’t: never use all oars on one side to scull the bow around. That is the quickest way to roll a boat over. No more than one rower sculling in a four and no more than two rowers sculling in an eight.


Coaches, if there is a head or cross wind on the course, you need to instruct your crews that as soon as they are locked on the stake boat they need to keep their point. And this does not mean pointing straight down the race course, especially in a cross wind. They need to keep their bow pointed up into the wind until just before the start of their race. This is best accomplished by sculling the bow around which moves the boat sideways instead of pulling it forward as a normal rowing stroke would do, often pulling the boat out of the boat holders hands.


1) Pass one oar (in an eight, you can use 2 oars on the same side) to the rower in front of you: bow seat to 2 seat, 2 seat to 3 seat, etc.

2) With one arm fully extended over the side of the boat and the oar handle pointing toward the stern, take short strokes next to the hull to move the boat sideways.

3) In the 2 pictures below, notice the hands stay in front of the body just like in normal rowing. Again the key is you are reaching over the side of the boat so that the oar is nearly parallel with the boat taking short strokes moving the boat sideways.