The horizontal movement of the water when a wave passes is approximately equal to the up and down movement of the water. If you are on flat water and are parallel to waves made by a passing boat, your boat will move side-to-side as much as up-and–down as the wave passes under you. The side-to-side movement actually creates most of the difficulty in balancing the boat in such a situation. However, under typical conditions in the bay there can be such varied wave action that you can’t easily distinguish horizontal and vertical motion.
Noise level is another large factor that tips the scale more towards water rowers. Air rowers make a fairly loud “whooshing” noise every stroke, which makes them bad for people who like watching TV, have sleeping children, live in apartments, or like working out early in the AM. Water rowers do make some noise but the splashing of water in the tank is a lot quieter and more soothing than the fan noise produced by air rowers.
When waves run into water moving in the opposite direction, they are slowed, just as if they were approaching a beach. Wave length becomes shorter, wave height higher, and they may break. A good (bad) example of this is an ebb current flowing out of Raccoon Strait into waves coming in from the Golden Gate. Good rough water training, if that’s what you want.
The oldest, and arguably most famous, head race is the Head of the River Race, founded by Steve Fairbairn in 1926 which takes place each March on the river Thames in London, United Kingdom. Head racing was exported to the United States in the 1950s, and the Head of the Charles Regatta held each October on the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts, United States is now the largest rowing event in the world. The Head of the Charles, along with the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia and the Head of the Connecticut, are considered to be the three “fall classics.”
Single, and double sculls are usually steered by the scullers pulling harder on one side or the other. In other boats, there is a rudder, controlled by the coxswain, if present, or by one of the crew. In the latter case, the rudder cable is attached to the toe of one of his shoes which can pivot about the ball of the foot, moving the cable left or right. The bowman may steer since he has the best vision when looking over his shoulder. On straighter courses, the strokesman may steer, since he can point the stern of the boat at some landmark at the start of the course. On international courses, landmarks for the steersmen, consisting of two aligned poles, may be provided.
Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.