There are many differing sets of rules governing racing, and these are generally defined by the governing body of the sport in a particular country—e.g., British Rowing in England and Wales, Rowing Australia in Australia, and USRowing in the United States. In international competitions, the rules are set out by the world governing body, the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA). The rules are mostly similar but do vary; for example, British Rowing requires coxswains to wear buoyancy aids at all times, whereas FISA rules do not.
First of all, if you're considering rowing, just do it. It is by far the most enjoyable and beneficial exercise I have ever tried. I've made huge strides with both cardio and muscle fitness with the WaterRower, and it's so enjoyable I look forward to exercising each day. Yes, it is more expensive than most other rowing machines, but when you compare it to a lot of other types of exercise equipment, it's actually pretty reasonable. When you also compare the exercise benefit you get, it's a bargain.
The OMNI T1X next-generation, cutting-edge, gold standard touring class open water and coastal rowing shell is available for purchase spring 2015!   The new OMNI T1X is 19' long with significant design updates to row and track well on flat water as well as be the ultimate performance and safe rowing shell rowing through chop, wake and swells found on magnificent large bodies of water.   We've modeled the OMNI T1X after the best features of U.S. manufactured open water shells and built-in the efficient, self-bailing open transom found in all European built Coastal Rowing Shells. The OMNI T1X is a versatile, adjustable shell accommodating both tall and short rowers of varying weights.  You'll find the slightly uplifted bow shape slicing through chop with ease, the self-bailing open transom efficiently shedding water against the roughest conditions; the long, tapered built-in keel tracking well and the hull shape & stabiity necessary to catch, lock-on and drive past the competition in the roughest of open water stretches. Meeting the maximum length for Open Water Competition Touring Class shells at 19', the new OMNI T1X is light, stiff and ready to deliver optimal performance for our most competitive endurance rowers and a boat to last a life-time for recreation and fitness rowers. 
Our Wooden Rowing Machines are Made in the USA using hardwood from only replenishable sources. We strive to manufacture rowing machines that are of a stylish design and built to last, while maintaining our commitment to eco-friendliness. Our Rowing Machines are functional fitness furniture, designed not to be hidden away like other unsightly gym equipment, but to look at home in your living room. Storing in an upright position no wider than a dining room chair, our rowing machines can be easily laid out for a quick indoor rowing exercise session. 
Water rowers are just a recent invention followed by the air rower, which utilizes paddles and water in order to create the resistance. While there are a lot of people who prefer the air rower compared to this one, there are also people who prefer the water rower because it has a smoother, quieter feel of the action, especially when emulating the movement of water rowing. Like the air rower, this machine is able to burn calories and work up your muscles through offering resistance to your movement while sitting on the sliding seat. The more resistance there is, the more it makes it harder to work on the machine and your workout becomes more challenging.
The rowing machine itself is unlike any other on the market with its patented water filled flywheel. It is hard to exactly copy the action of a scull on the water, but the mechanics of the flywheel spinning in water comes in a close second on dry land. The fact that the water is 800 times denser than air means that there is no need for any extra resistance or dampening that you will find in normal air rowers. The faster you pull, the more resistance is generated giving it infinite variability. However, if you want to be able to practice rowing with a faster stroke, you will have to reduce the amount of water in the tank unlike an air rower where you just have to adjust the baffle.
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