SteeringYou have the responsibility to steer the boat on the correct course, preferably not inconveniencing other boats on the river, and making sure that you obey the rules of the river. There is no substitute for practice at steering, but here are a few tips:
- You steer by moving the rudder strings by your sides. There are usually handles on the strings to hold on to.
- To steer towards one direction, push the handle on that side away from you. So if you want to steer right, push the right rudder string away from you, bringing the left string closer. It easiest if you keep the rudder strings taut at all times if there is some slack.
- You have to steer in advance, as the boat is not very responsive - decent VIIIs are about 60ft long, with a rudder the size of a credit card! You have to start steering before you get to the corner, and stop steering before you come out of the corner. How early depends on the conditions - how fast the boat is going, etc.
- The rudder acts as a break and slows the boat down, so use as sparingly as possible. It also upsets the balance of the boat, so you shouldn't ever wham the rudder on hard, or frequently change what you are doing with the rudder strings. A good crew can compensate for the balance with practice, but only after a couple of strokes of the rudder not changing.
- For the sharper corners is helps to use the crew as well to steer. You can do this by telling one side in the bows to pull harder for a few strokes - remember to tell them when to stop pulling harder as well.