Pocock Singles Project
John Robinson on Mahe Drysdale


I'd be interested in your critique of Mahe Drysdale's style in this 2012 race.

I'd also be interested in any videos you can point to of world class rowers rowing correctly.



Jim; (with copy to Bill Tytus)

1) I don’t think one provides "critique" of the fastest man alive in a single . . . one may make some observations.

2) Bill and I have discussed this issue and Bill would, I think, argue that at this level of rowing these guys are devoted to developing their fitness to do the physical work required to win and while important, technique is secondary. In our world most of us have some level of fitness but it’s much lower so technique likely can make a much bigger difference for us.

3) The entire race except the start was rowed at a rate in the mid thirties (34-36) so things like slide control and rhythm are much less apparent because of the little time available from when the blade comes out of the water to when it goes back in.

4) The catches were direct, immediate and viscous.

5) Mostly looked like a two part stroke, drive, stop then reverse the body to the stern. At times there was a hint of a single fluid motion or a "one cut stroke" but most of the time not.

6) The biggest difference I noticed comparing Drysdale to the other rowers was the trim of his boat through each stroke. As his body came into the bow the boats bow "settled" into the water then came back up. Several of the other rowers drove their bows down, to the point where from the side they looked like the deck was down to the waters surface. This would indicate to me that Drysdale was keeping the blade engaged in the water longer than the others. In one shot from behind of one of the other rowers you could see the a pronounced wave propagating out from the side of the boat from the boat's bow being driven down into the water. Compare this to the shot at 1500 meters from the side of Drysdale's boat.

7) All the rowers seemed to have their seat under them (as opposed to behind them) but I didn’t see any that were pronounced and most didn’t seem to overly compress the legs.

8) It is easy to see with many of them how quickly the legs go down which really initiates the drive and a smooth stroke.

9) I would suspect the all would be faster if the had a better boat to row . . . one manufactured in the PNW.

10) I’d invite Bill to amend or correct any of the above and expand if he is so moved. He may also have some links to other videos that are worth studying.

John H. Robinson

Pocock Singles Project
Copyright 2005 - 2013 Wooden Boat Foundation
All rights reserved.