This study examined individual contributions to overall pacing strategy during 2- and 5-km rowing trials in a coxless-4 boat.
A crew of 4 male rowers performed maximal-effort on-water trials over 2 and 5 km, and power output during every individual stroke was measured for each crew member. Mean overall boat and individual rower stroke power were calculated for each 25% epoch (25% of total strokes taken), and power for each individual epoch was calculated as a percentage of mean power maintained over the entire distance. The coefficient of variation was used to determine stroke-to-stroke and epoch-to-epoch variability for individual rowers and the overall boat.
In both trials, the overall pacing strategy consisted of a high power output in the initial 25% that decreased in the middle 50% and increased again in the final 25%. However, individual rower data indicate wide variation in individual power profiles that did not always mimic the overall boat profile.
This study demonstrates that overall boat power profiles during 2- and 5-km rowing trials are similar to velocity profiles previously reported for individual ergometry and on-water racing events. However, this overall profile is achieved despite considerable variation in individual rower profiles. Further research is warranted to determine the mechanisms through which individual contributions to overall pacing strategy are regulated and the effectiveness or otherwise of seemingly disparate individual strategies on overall performance.
The authors are with the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK.