Using courses and rowing challenges with Rowsandall just got easier
- April
Posted By : sander
Using courses and rowing challenges with Rowsandall just got easier

Both and CrewNerd have a “Custom Course” functionality. Did you know the two apps are compatible and that the integration has just become even better?

If you’re an on-the-water rower, you may have heard of CrewNerd, and if you’re a Rowsandall user, you may have heard about the virtual courses and challenges. But there is also a pretty good chance that you haven’t.

So what is this feature?

  • You’re interested in recording your time over a defined course on your training water, for example between two landmarks. Instead of having someone with a stopwatch on the bank, or manually starting and stopping your GPS device in the boat, or any other ad-hoc way, you can just upload your GPS track to and let it calculate the exact time.
  • You want to set up a little informal competition on a local stretch of water, just measuring time over a given course between local rowers, who do the course during their own training session. Instead of having to rely on self-reported times, and not being sure whether they did all time the exact same course, you can just ask your friends to upload their GPS track to and get their course times. You can even set up handicaps, so you can have different boat classes, age groups and genders compete with each other.

This functionality has existed on since 2018. You can read about the full history below.

The creation of a Rowsandall and CrewNerd custom course requires some work in Google Earth, and then some technical steps to get the course from your computer to your phone. That’s a hurdle that not every CrewNerd user is prepared to take. Also, it made sharing of courses between CrewNerd users very hard. On the Rowsandall end, it has been difficult to get feedback about how you’re adhering to the course, whether you are already on the course, etc, when you were rowing the course on the water.

CrewNerd and Rowsandall are now releasing an integration that removes all these difficulties.

Course Synchronization between CrewNerd and

Since December 2023, CrewNerd has a direct integration. Read all about it on CrewNerd Integration and CrewNerd News.  If you have a Rowsandall account and are a CrewNerd user, you can give CrewNerd permission to upload your workouts to Rowsandall, with one click, directly from the app.

Together with Tony Andrews, the very nice guy who owns and develops the CrewNerd app, we have taken this integration one step further, and now you can download CrewNerd/Rowsandall courses directly to CrewNerd.

Here’s how it works: Sign in to and head over to the Challenges and Courses section. You’ll see a new landing page which, every time you load it, tries to suggest a few interesting courses for you:

If there is any course you’re interested in getting to CrewNerd, you have to make sure that you add them to your list of “liked” courses. If you have liked a course, the little heart icon will be a blue fill. Just click on the heart icon to toggle the status.

Of course, there are more courses than the three that we suggest. A list of all courses is readily accessible and searchable: You can quickly filter on courses close to you as well. If you want to check which are the courses you have liked, you can see them on Alternatively, you can just open CrewNerd, go to Courses, click on “Sync from Rowsandall…” , and see something like this:

Now you’re ready to use the course in CrewNerd.

As a challenge organizer, it was always difficult to explain where the course started exactly: “The finish is at the first tree on port side, before the highway bridge. The start is just after the letter box of the farm on stern side.” Now you can just share the course’s Rowsandall page (for example which your friend can open in a browser and “like” it on Rowsandall.

On-the-water feedback about your position on the course and heading

Once you have CrewNerd set up with the right courses, it becomes very easy to use the course on the water.

  • CrewNerd allows you to set up special fields, like “distance to next waypoint”, “estimated time to waypoint” and “course to waypoint”.
  • CrewNerd will show you the name of the next waypoint and the running time on the course.
  • When you start a course, the status in the app shows amber, and turns green once you have passed the start line. Also, the course timer starts running automatically.
  • Once you’ve passed the finish line, CrewNerd will indicate this, and show you the total time on the course. You are now 100% sure that you have successfully executed the course.
  • With one click, you can upload your workout to Rowsandall, where the official time no the course is calculated.

I would like to mention one very cool feature: “Course to next waypoint”. In CrewNerd and on Rowsandall, waypoints are defined by polygons. CrewNerd can point the direction to the nearest corner of the next waypoint. If your waypoints are cleverly designed, with a “pointy front edge”, this feature will actually give you a very accurate indication of the best heading to the next point.

In the image above, I have tested this myself. I designed a little “S bend” course on my local water, with pointy front edges, and used CrewNerd to determine the best heading. In the image, the start polygon is on the bottom right, and the finish is just after the bridge in the top left. You can see how the waypoint polygons were designed to let CrewNerd find the best course while still respecting traffic rules. I was able to row almost precisely through the pointy front edges of the polygons.

I made one waypoint polygon a little bigger on purpose: While you’re rowing “inside” a waypoint, CrewNerd will not show any heading information. To respect traffic rules, I was supposed to keep a straight course inside that polygon, and could start the turn safely only after leaving it on the northwest edge. This same thing can be used around turns.

I’ve been in a few email conversations between challenge organizers and participants, where their course was rejected because they missed one of the gates. The usual problem was that the user rowed just next to a gate, and thus actually entered the “forbidden zone”. The challenge organized usually draws the gate polygons in a way to create maximum safety and make sure that participants respect the traffic and safety rules of the challenge at hand, so just drawing wider polygons is not a good solution.

If you run a course with CrewNerd, there will be no ambiguity, and even better, you can set up your courses in such a way that, with the navigation help, participants aim for the ideal line.

I think that this functionality can be of great help in making challenges safer and less frustrating.

So, whether you’re a challenge organizer or a rower, please try out this functionality and give us feedback.

A brief history of the Rowsandall courses and challenges feature

Here’s a little history of Rowsandall’s courses and challenges feature:

One of the challenges with running on the water speed orders has always been “missing gates”. In order to avoid scullers going against traffic rules, often the Speed Order organizers create gates that do not span the entire width of the river (or lake). Of course, some participants go to the edge and actually miss one of the gates, which leads to a non-valid result.

In collaboration with CrewNerd, we have now resolved this. You can simply synchronize the Rowsandall course to CrewNerd on your phone, and then you’ll get real-time feedback about the gates you pass, and you can even get steering hints. All you need to have is a Rowsandall account and CrewNerd on your phone. On Rowsandall, you can now “like” a course, and from CrewNerd you can pull the list of “liked” courses into the app, where they are then available to row a timed course.