By sports journalist Fabio GaffarelliI think it’s fair to say that the term “virtual ropeless” has become something of a catchall term for all the various ways in which the sport of rowing can be performed, from the simple to the complex.
It can be done, of course, as part of a competition or as part a traditional event, but there’s no doubt that most rowing fans, especially in Italy, are not familiar with the finer points of ropework, let alone the intricacies of a rowing rowing event.
So, it is a bit of a surprise that the Italians have developed their own term for what I call the ropable, which I’ll come back to later on in this series.
A virtual ropless rowing experience is an event where the actual rowing machine is simply left on its side, with a small piece of plywood or cardboard floating up from the water.
The event has two main components: the participants have to pull the foam in a manner that is mimicking the natural rowing movements of the rowing, and the board is then placed on the water, the foams can be removed at any time, but there are rules for receiving the foam as well as the piling of the foam.
Participants are instructed to do this while holding their hands behind their back and the entire movement can only be observed by the boiler or an engineer behind them.
I think the concept is very appealing for many people, especially the ones who aren’t particularly good at rowing themselves.
However, it does require a lot of finesse, as the foam must be placed with enough force to allow the board to float over the water. The foam can also be pushed with a tug which also requires a tendency to hold a rope in the hand and pull back from the surface to avoid being pulled against the surface again.
While I would love to see a virtual roping event that actually took place, it’s also possible to replicate a real rowing activity in real life by watching a video or using the virtual ropin in an event.
If you are looking for more information on rowing and virtual rowing experiences, I highly recommend the Virtual Rowing Guide for a great guide to virtual rowing events in all their exotic flavors.