Set in the right direction

I learned to scull a number of years ago, but a year and a half went by when I didn’t get out on a boat in the river. When I returned, nothing worked. I could barely lift the oars out of the water, couldn’t synchronize them, and the boat tipped side to side. What was wrong? Had I grabbed oars that were too long and too heavy for me? That was my conclusion as I struggled to get back to the dock at the public boathouse, where a more experienced rower pulled me in. As I began my verbal analysis, he cut me off. “Your oarlocks are backward,” he said.

Sure enough, the oarlocks—the U-shaped cups where the oars rest—faced the bow, not the stern. I repositioned the oarlocks. With the oars set correctly, I then rowed almost effortlessly down the river, able to control the direction of my boat. No matter the skill or experience of the rower or the difficulty of the course, correct placement of the oars in the oarlocks is fundamental. You can’t row successfully if your oarlocks are backward!

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