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.
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.