Ratio & Rhythm

‘Move quickly but don’t rush.’ In other words, practice rowing with ratio and rhythm.

Rowing with good rhythm means rowing smoothly without rushing, hesitating, or jerking; moving with the speed of the boat. Ratio refers to the amount of time spent on the recovery compared to the amount of time spent on the drive. In general, you are looking to row smoothly with the recovery taking slightly longer than the drive.

An inconsistent rhythm and rushing the last quarter of the recovery will send the boat in the wrong direction, causing the boat to check and slow down. A consistent rhythm where rowers are moving smoothly with the boat will keep the boat balanced, allowing rowers to get a good drive, and it will allow the boat to run on the recovery with minimum slow  down. When the rowers establish good rhythm and ratio the rowing will feel much easier, even though they may be working as hard or harder, and the boat will move faster.

If the coxswain calls ‘more ratio’ they are looking for rowers to work harder on the drive and to take more time on the recovery – ‘big legs, long recovery’. If they call for a ‘rate bump’, rowers should increase boat speed first by applying more pressure and moving with the speed of the boat on the recovery. When boat speed increases the rate can change as long as rowers are moving with the new boat speed.

A crew with good ratio and rhythm will be more graceful, the stroke will be longer, the rowers will be more relaxed, the boat will ‘run’ well during the recovery, and the boat will be faster overall. Practicing stroke sequencing, timing, and pressure as a team will help improve rhythm, ratio, and overall boat performance.

BEWARE! A negative ratio, with the recovery taking less time than drive, can lead to poor stroke execution, poor balance, very little run in the boat, and an inability to rest for the next drive. And, its not fun!