First, what is a Stake Boat?

stake boat holder ssrsA Stake boat is where the rowing boats start the race from.

A volunteer will hold onto the stern tip of the boat to keep it from drifting away.  The other job of the volunteer is to move the boat in and out according to the “aligner” (person to the side on shore that makes sure all the boats start evenly)’s commands.  Since some boats are longer than others, the aligner simply lines up all the bow balls evenly with the help of the stake boat holders to make sure the race is fair (the finish is judged by the bow ball so it makes sense the start is as well. This way, having a longer boat is not an unfair advantage).

The video below details all of the steps of what it takes to be a stake boat holder:

  • The rowers and coxswain will get the boat appropriately close to you. Reach out and slow the boat as it approaches the stake boat using two hands.
  • Avoid letting your hands get caught between the boat and the dock or underneath the boat – they could get pinched quite badly.
  • Make small, smooth and slow corrections as the aligner tells you to slide the boat in and out from  the dock/stake boat.
  • Some start platforms like the one in Sarasota have adjustable “fingers” that move in and out. Most of the time you will have to pull the shell along the side of the dock to make large adjustments.
  • The boat shell will initally move backwards 6 inches or more when the race first starts. Account for this and avoid putting the shell in a position that may hurt yourself of the boat.
  • Once you have a hold of the boat, it may be necessary for the crew to “scull” the boat around to correct the “point” or direction they are facing the boat. This will be more common when there is a strong crosswind.
  • As a stake boat holder, you may have to remind some novice crews to do this when they begin to drift.
  • Everyone on the dock, including stake boat holders should stay low or down in position for 20 seconds or until the race has crossed the 100 metre mark. This is to avoid distracting the rowers, and so that they can focus on the officials running the race.

Thanks RowIntel for the video!