Rower Handbook for Cape Cod Youth Rowing Program Participants

Youth Rowing Program Goals

  1. Provide a safe, quality, competitive rowing program that is fun, challenging, and open to all students who are willing to make the necessary commitments.
  2. Prepare and assist students in making the transition to rowing on the collegiate level. Allow all rowers to participate in as many practices and races as possible (this is limited at times due to the types of races and numbers of rowers).

Our goal is to ensure participation by every team member: in rowing, no one sits on a bench! Please note, however, students are not guaranteed a spot in every race. Parents and rowers are encouraged to get in contact with the coaches or parents overseeing the program regarding any questions or concerns.

About Program Funding

The Team is primarily self-funded, supported by the generosity of Cape Cod Masters Rowing and other community members.

Season Dues/User Fees

User fees paid each season help cover the operational expenses of the program including coaching, regatta entry fees, student and boat transportation, insurance, etc. Program fees are calculated prior to the start of each season. Our goal is to keep user fees as low as possible without jeopardizing the quality and safety of the program. The program’s fees are currently one of the lowest in New England for a self-funded high school rowing program.

Dues/User Fees Refund Policy

Refunds will not be issued after the second week of practice. Withdrawals prior to that time will be charged on a percentage basis.


The Team wants to ensure that all students who wish to participate can. Families with extenuating circumstances can contact the coaches to discuss options for scholarship, reduced fees, and/or payment plans.

Youth Program Rower Requirements

  1. SWIMMING SKILLS Basic swimming skills are a vital component of a safe crew. All new participants are required to take a swim test or present a current Water Safety or Lifeguard Certificate. Swim tests will be provided by the coaches and are required before new members will be allowed in a boat or out on the water. NOTE: Participants cannot wear a life jacket while rowing.
  2. ATTENDANCE Attendance to practices and regattas is mandatory. In rowing, when a rower misses practice, eight other rowers are affected. In addition, the coach’s plans for that day’s workout are disrupted. Excused absences should be minimized.
  3. WEATHER Practices are held, rain or shine. Only high winds and lightning will keep rowers off the water. Where possible, a land-based workout will be assigned.
  4. CONDUCT Rowing is a highly respected sport that is steeped in tradition. Rowers are expected to respect the sport and their team members. As practices are held at a town beach, rowers are expected to respect neighboring residents and visitors. No yelling, screaming, swearing, pealing out of the parking lot, wrestling or other disruptive behavior is allowed. Rowers are responsible for removing all trash including water bottles, socks, clothes, etc. In addition, rowers are expected to follow the rules and guidelines set forth by their high school at all times.
  5. SAFETY All rowers are expected to be safe, mature, cooperative and respectful of other people and their property while involved in program activities. This is especially important before and after practices, when rowers may be unsupervised on the beach. The program strives to provide adult supervision of rowers at all times, but recognizes that this is not always possible without the assistance of parents. Therefore, we ask that rowers refrain from hanging around the beach area for extended periods of time before and after their scheduled practices. Parents please note the scheduled practice times and ensure that your children are there only for their scheduled practices. We are guests at a town-owned facility with many close neighbors and we must all work together to ensure the safety of all our participants.
  6. EQUIPMENT Rowing shells and the associated equipment are very expensive and fragile. All rowers must follow boat handling instruction and rules. Every member of the team is equally responsible for the equipment and is expected to stay at practice and/or races until all equipment is properly stored or loaded on the trailer.

Boat Selection

Perhaps the hardest job any rowing coach has is determining boat selection. That is, deciding which athletes to place in specific boats. This decision is complex and depends on many constantly changing variables. Below is an outline meant to give parents and rowers a basic understanding of the criteria for these decisions.


  • Technique
  • Erg scores
  • Attendance
  • Attitude, conduct and work ethic


  • Leadership
  • Understanding of rowing commands
  • Steering and control of the rowing shell
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Attendance
  • Attitude, conduct and work ethic

Practice Location & Preparation

Practices are held on Long Pond Rd. in Harwich at the Harwich Town Beach (between exits 10 and 11) as we;; as Lake Wequaquet’s Town Beach, on Shootflying Hill Road in Centerville.  Rowers should be prepared for all types of weather during practices and on race days.

The following items are recommended for practices:

  • Running shoes for land workouts.
  • Workout clothes. Fleece and wool are strongly recommended for their warmth when wet. During the colder months, multiple layers (including hats) should be worn so that rowers can remove layers as necessary during warm-ups.
  • Water bottle (rowers should not share water bottles).
  • Rubber wet suit boots are helpful (but optional) in the Spring season as the water is very cold in April.
  • Do not wear cotton, “cotton kills.”
  • Do not wear baggy shorts or pants (that can get caught in the sliding boat seats).  Spandex is the fabric of choice for rowers.

Rowing Seasons

SPRING SEASON The Spring racing season begins in mid–March and runs through the last week of May. Spring races are 1500 meters and take between 6 and 7 minutes to complete. All crews start together and race straight down a course. These races are called sprint races much like races in track and field. The Team competes in the Massachusetts Public Schools Rowing Association.

FALL SEASON The Fall races are know as “Head” races, such as the world famous Head of The Charles Regatta in Boston. Head races are about 3 miles in length and tend to include crews from high schools, colleges, national teams, and rowing clubs all competing in the same regatta under different divisions. Crews begin “Head” races with a staggered start and race the clock as well as crews that they may encounter along the race course. These exhausting, endurance races can take over 20 minutes and are the rowing equivalent of a marathon.

WINTER SEASON During the winter months, the Team runs land-based workouts and weight lift training. These sessions allow coaches to teach the fundamental, physiological aspects of training in more detail. It also gives rowers a chance to work on ergometers and receive more one-on-one coaching concerning technique.

SUMMER SEASON Detail concerning a summer season to be posted soon.

Rowing Regattas

Regattas (crew races) are probably unlike any other competitive event that you have ever attended. Race days are often long and arduous. They usually begin early in the morning and include 3-4 hours of travel, hours of equipment rigging and de-rigging, additional hours of waiting and, finally, a relatively brief period of racing. What makes it all worthwhile is the team camaraderie and family participation.

Parents are strongly encouraged to attend and support the team on race day. And more importantly, it is a great way for everyone to get involved. Plan on spending the better part of the day at away meets. Bring comfortable lawn or beach chairs, binoculars, sunscreen, and adequate food and drink. It is truly a wonderful experience for rowers and parents.