Basic Setup

Rowing on the Water

Attaching your Phone to the Boat

BoatCoach uses your phone’s motion sensor to measure your stroke rate, so no cumbersome wires are required.  However, it is important is that the phone be solidly attached to the boat.  If the phone is vibrating or moving about you may not get accurate stroke rate readings

Mounting in a boat

Mounting in a boat

For an easy way to mount your phone to a boat, consider purchasing the BoatCoach  Cradle.

If you don’t have the cradle you can Velcro, clip, or tape the case to your foot stretchers or anywhere else where the phone is visible.  The direction you point the phone in is not important.  The screen orientation can be either horizontal or vertical.

You should buy an inexpensive waterproof case for your phone. This $5 case from Amazon is a great example. It’s waterproof to 100 feet, the phone’s touch screen works fine in the case, and the lanyard string ties the case to the boat so that it can’t fall overboard.

Another option is to buy a “waterproof” phone like the inexpensive Motorola Defy.


If you are a rower or dragon boater, in most cases you should not need to adjust the stroke settings. Simply set the “Direction of Phone” and “Stroke Measurement Sensitivity” set to the default “automatic” setting.

If you are in a kayak, you need to manually set the direction in which the phone is pointed.

Rowing on the Ergometer

Concept2 Compatibility

rowing on erg

rowing on erg

BoatCoach works with Concept2 PM3 and PM4 performance monitors.

For proper operation make sure that your PM3 firmware is updated to version 315 or 108 or later or your PM4 firmware is updated to version 318 or 29 or later.  Concept2 has update directions on their website.

Not all Android phones have the full USB support necessary to connect to a PM.  To see if your phone will work with a PM, please check with Concept2 or test compatibility using the “USB Host Diagnostics” app available free from the Google Play Store.  If your phone passes all USB Host Diagnostics tests then your phone will connect to your PM.

Concept2 USB Cables

concept2 kit

concept2 kit

A USB cable and a cradle to hold your phone can be purchased from Concept2 for $10.


It’s very important that you *not* have a logcard inserted in the PM when using BoatCoach.   If the logcard is inserted then BoatCoach won’t function properly.



The main screen of BoatCoach is the Dashboard.  It is where your live workout data is displayed.

Dashboard Data

dashboard while rowing

dashboard while rowing

The dashboard can display the following data:

  • Stroke rate / stroke count
  • Distance
  • Average speed
  • Speed over the last 10 strokes (instantaneous speed or “pace”)
  • Clock
  • Elapsed time
  • Calories / calories per hour / watts / donuts (Boston Kreme)
  • Heart rate
  • Repetition number
  • Target stroke rate
dashboard while erging

dashboard while erging

In addition to the above, the ergometer dashboard can display:

  • Average force / peak force
  • Drive length / drive speed
  • Drag factor

Layouts and Customization

There are several dashboard layouts to choose from, each with varying amounts of data and font sizes.  Click on “->“ in the menu bar to move between layouts.

select data to show

select data to show

In some layouts the data cells have a “>“ next to them.  If you *long click* on these cells a menu pops up that allows you to customize the data being displayed.  For example you can replace calories with watts or heart rate.  Or in rowing mode you could choose to display distance as meters, miles, kilometers, etc.

Using Programs

On an Ergometer

To use a preprogrammed workout, go to the programs page, select a program, and then flip back to the Dashboard.  Once you start erging the program will automatically start.

In a Boat

To use a preprogammed workout, go to the programs page, select a program, and flip back to the Dashboard.  You can either manually start the program by pushing the start program, or if in AutoStart mode the program will start when you hit your target stroke rate

dashboard with program running

dashboard with program running

Program On-Screen Information

While your program is running you will see a colored bar at the bottom of the Dashboard.  The highlighted black interval within the bar indicates how far into the workout you’ve progressed.

For each interval the time or distance data will be highlighted with green, orange or red background to indicate how hard you should be rowing.

Start Button

In rowing mode you can start/pause/stop/clear a piece using the buttons at the bottom of the screen.  BoatCoach can also automatically start and stop a piece based on your stroke rating using the AutoStart feature.

AutoStart mode

When rowing on the water, you have the option to AutoStart pieces and programs at a target stroke rate.  This feature is very useful to rowers who don’t have their hands free and want to “row into” a piece.

For example, if you are paddling at a 20 but want to do your pieces at a 30. Set autostart to 24spm and BoatCoach will automatically start the piece when you exceed 24spm and stop the piece when you fall below 24spm or stop rowing for 5 seconds.

Once you’ve autostarted a program, the program will continue running until it’s completed, regardless of your stroke rate.

Quick Settings Menu

quick settings menu

quick settings menu

Click on the wrench icon to bring up the quick settings menu.  From quick settings you can tell BoatCoach to speak vital data like stroke rate and speed or when a program interval begins or ends.  This feature may be particularly useful for blind or visually impaired rowers.

If you are rowing on the water you can also set the AutoStart stroke rate and lock the dashboard screen orientation.

Raindrops hitting the phone can sometimes fool the touchscreen into thinking that buttons are being pressed.  Click on “Splash Guard” to disable button presses.  To turn off splash guard hit the back button once.

Ergometer Status Bar

In ergometer mode the status bar at the bottom of the page tells you whether or not you are connected via USB to the performance monitor.  If you are connected it will tell you your workout status.

Rowing indicators

While rowing-on-the water, when the display is vertical and all eight data boxes are visible, there are two indicator lights

  • The stroke indicator (located between “stroke rate” and “stroke count”) shows green when detecting a stroke or solid red after 5 seconds of no strokes
  • The GPS strength indicator (located between “distance” and “speed”) shows GPS signal strength in increasing order of red, orange, yellow, blue, and green

Other features include

  • When not doing a piece or program, the screen shows cumulative time, distance, etc. for the entire workout (both pieces and paddling).
  • Once a piece or program is started, all the timers reset to zero and the dashboard shows details just for that piece or program.
  • After finishing a piece or program, all the workout details are sent to the logbook.



Programs vs. Pieces

If you’re doing a simple workout, just hop on the erg or into the boat and BoatCoach will record your pieces in the logbook.

If you’re doing a complex workout such as pyramids, 10x500m, Tabata, multiple consecutive pieces, varying stroke rates, or just about anything that is longer than one piece at a time, then you probably want to create a program.

Using Programs

a list of programs

a list of programs

To use a program, select it on the Programs page (it will turn blue when selected) and then flip to the Dashboard.  If you are using an ergometer, make sure the USB cable is plugged in before selecting the program.

If you’re on an erg, simply start rowing and the program will start.

If you are in a boat, you need to either push the “start program” button or if in autostart mode the program will automatically start when you hit your target stroke rate.

The same program can be used in either a boat or on an erg (subject to the limitations below).

Program Actions

You can take the following actions from the program menu:

  • Edit an existing program
  • Create a new program
  • Copy an existing program
  • Delete a program (do this on the edit program page)

Creating and Editing Programs

Rowing Programs

editing a program

editing a program

If you’re creating a new program, first give your program a name and description.

You can add and delete intervals using the “+” and “-” buttons.

There are no limits to how you can combine time/distance and easy/medium/hard intervals to create a program for rowing on the water.

You can set a target stroke rate for each interval.  For example, for a pyramid you could set target stroke rates of 18, 22, 26, 22, 18.

You can repeat an entire program a set number of times.

Concept2 Programs

Concept2 ergometer programs have a few limitations:

  • There can be no more than 30 work intervals
  • Rest intervals can only be measured in time
  • Rest interval duration cannot exceed 9:55
  • Work interval duration must be at least 100 meters or 20 seconds
  • Only easy (rest) and hard intervals are recognized

To meet these requirements, BoatCoach may modify a “rowing” program if you use it on an ergometer.


To use most program features you need to purchase an upgrade.  However, the “Pyramid to 5 Minutes” program is free for you to use.  Try using the program editor to modify this program (see how easy the editor is to use), but you won’t be able to save the changes without upgrading.






The logbook is a summary of all your workouts.

Rowing workouts are shaded grey.  Concept2 ergometer workouts are white.

You’ll need to stop your workout by exiting the app or starting a new program for the data to show up in the logbook.

In order to exit the app, hit the “back” button.  The app will ask you if you really want to exit BoatCoach,  Say “ok”. At that point the app will shut down and the next time you enter the app you should see your workout in the logbook.

Display Modes

There are two modes of display

  • “log” selects full screen logbook mode
  • “Σ” selects summation mode

In addition you can email yourself your entire workout history in CSV format and sync with the Concept2 Online Logbook.

Logbook Actions

First click on one or more workouts (the rows will turn yellow), and then perform one of the following actions…

  • Press the  “123″ icon to view workout details (note that you can only view details of one workout at a time).
  • Press the  “graph” icon to graph the selected workouts.
  • Press the “map” icon to map the selected workouts (note you can’t map ergometer workouts)
  • Press the  “trash can” icon to delete the selected workouts

You can also search for workouts.  For example to find all workouts with  “5000m ” in their name, type 5000m into the filter box.



Workout Details

For each piece or each program the details page contains elapsed time, distance traveled, speed, stroke rate, calories and heart rate.

You can click the  “pencil” icon to change the workout name. Don’t forget to click the  “save” icon after editing.


Analytics - comparing workouts.  Frequency vs. Speed

Analytics – comparing workouts. Frequency vs. Speed

If you’ve purchased the GRAPH upgrade, all graph data is stored and can be accessed from the logbook so you can review details of your past workouts.

If you’ve purchased the ANALYTICS upgrade there are a number of additional graphing modes:

analytics - comparing workouts

Analytics – comparing workout speed

  • You can graph multiple workouts against each other. For example, you could select all workouts named  “2000m” and trackyour progress over the season.
  • You can compare speed, stroke rate, heart rate and distance between workouts. You can also graph frequency vs. speed.
  • You can graph your Concept2 “Power Curve”, including averages by quarter and power curve distribution.
speed plotted on the map

speed plotted on the map


If you’ve purchased the MAP upgrade you can map one or multiple workouts simultaneously using satellite or street view.  Workouts are color coded by speed, piece, or date.

Within a workout view your speed at different locations on the course.  Green means slow (paddle), shades of yellow mean you were working hard but not going your fastest, and deep red locates the peak speed for your workout.

When you map multiple workouts simultaneously you can compare steering and see where improvements can be made for the next workout.  Anybody who rows on a river with a lot of turns, or who rows in open water like a harbor will find this particularly useful.

See the upgrade page for more information.

Summation Actions

With the ANALYTICS upgrade you can group workouts to track your efforts over long periods of time.  Actions include…

  • Summarize your workout time and distance by day, week, month, or year


    Summary of workout distance by week

  • Show the results in either tabular or graphical format

Concept2 Online Logbook

You can sync both your rowing and ergometer workouts online at the Concept2 website

New user? Register now. After registering, make sure you enter your Concept2 name and password on the Settings page. Or View your existing Online Logbook.

Email Workouts

You can email yourself your entire workout history in CSV format.


You can upload your workouts to Strava.  Select the workouts you want to sync and then click on the “strava upload” button.  Be sure you’ve first logged into your Strava account from the settings page.





BoatCoach allows you to graph your rowing or ergometer workout on your phone.


On the graph’s x-axis choose between distance and time. On the y-axis choose between speed, stroke rate, and heart rate by selecting “->” in the menu (the other two y-axis variables will also be shown, but they will be scaled).



Do a regression analysis and plot speed vs. stroke rate. This plot gives you an idea of how effectively you increase your speed for each extra increase in stroke rate.

Pinch and zoom within the graph to see details.


On the Graph Settings page you can change maximum and minimum limits for the y-axis variables so as to optimize the screen space. For example, you could choose not to show stroke rates less than 15 (on the paddle) or more than 40 (half stroke warmups).

“Speed smoothing” allows you to reduce error due to GPS noise. A medium setting is suggested when rowing.  You can turn it off when erging.

You can optionally shade the graph green/yellow/red to show easy/medium/hard activity.


When you’re happy with what you have on the screen, you can email yourself screen shots.


The free version of graphing allows you to just plot speed vs. distance.  To get all the other features you have to purchase the upgrade.

Demo mode

If you’re playing around with BoatCoach for the first time, there’s a menu option to display a “demo graph”.

[note, if you just want to test out BoatCoach you can walk (or cycle or drive) a few hundred meters and then trying exiting the app.  Boatcoach doesn't know the difference between rowing and driving. The data will not show up in the logbook if you haven't rowed a minimum distance and a minimum number of strokes. The minimum is 100 meters / 10 strokes.]


Data Capture


The Data Capture feature allows the rower to collect and analyze detailed information about their speed, stroke rate, stroke count, heart rate, distance, GPS location, and other data.  This information is then emailed to the rower in a .CSV and/or .GPX file for post-workout analysis.

data capture graph in MS Excel

data capture graph in MS Excel

Data capture works for both rowing-on-the-water and ergometer workouts.

CSV format is great if you want to analyze the data in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. It’s more human readable that GPX.

GPX format is great if you want to import the data into other workout programs like Garmin, Endomondo, or Strava. This format is also easiest for viewing your workout on a map.

The frequency of data capture can be varied from once/second to once/30 seconds.

To use the data capture feature you’ll need to purchase an upgrade.


To use the raw data capture feature…

  1. On the settings page enter your email address.
  2. under “collect raw workout data” enter the desired frequency of data capture. I typically use 5 second intervals.
  3. Choose whether you want to capture data in .CSV and/or .GPX formats.
    • .CSV is great if you want to analyze the data in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. It’s more human readable that .GPX.
    • .GPX is great if you want to import the data into other workout programs like Garmin, Endomondo, or Strava. This format is also easiest for viewing your workout on a map.
  4. Do your workout.
  5. When you exit BoatCoach the app will email (or DropBox) you a file containing the data.
  6. If you created a .CSV file then import it into Excel or another spreadsheet program and analyze or graph the data. I typically like to graph distance vs. speed, stroke rate, and heart rate using a scatter plot. If you created a .GPX file then import it into your favorite GPX viewer or other workout program.
  7. If the email of your workout fails for some reason you can still find your workout data on the phone’s sdcard in the /sdcard/boatcoach folder.


One of the best places on the web to analyze your CSV files is RowsAndAll, which is specifically designed for rowers.  RowsAndAll can import BoatCoach CSV files directly.

Boat Acceleration Capture

When rowing on the water there is an option to capture boat acceleration data at a frequency of 30 times/second to do detailed plots of boat acceleration during drive and recovery. Up to 15 minutes of .CSV data can be stored and will be emailed to you when you exit the BoatCoach app. You must be in “.CSV” and not “.CSV and .GPX” mode for this feature to work.

Note that it can take 1-2 minutes *after* you exit BoatCoach for the email dialog to come up, given the size of the file that BoatCoach needs to create to email you.

Concept2 Power Curve

If you’ve purchased both the ANALYTICS and DATA CAPTURE upgrades then your power curve data will also be exported to the .CSV file.

Further Reading

To learn more about how to evaluate boat acceleration plots, take a look at these studies…


Stroke Analysis

stroke analysis

stroke analysis

The stroke analysis page graphs acceleration vs. time for your last few strokes. when rowing on the water. The strokes are overlaid on top of each other so as to allow you to compare them easily against each other.

If you want to pause and examine the graphs more closely, click on the pause/resume button at the bottom.

From the menu you can choose to show 4, 10, or 25 strokes at the same time.  You can also email yourself a screen capture.


Heart Rate Sensor


zephyr heart rate monitor

zephyr heart rate monitor

The rowing heart rate sensor is designed to work with two types of heart rate monitors (HRMs)

  1. Modern Bluetooth Smart (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth 4.0) HRMs.  See the upgrades page for more information.
  2. The legacy Zephyr HxM Bluetooth HRM.  Support is provided for free.


There are two ways to connect an HRM when erging

  1. Use a modern Bluetooth Smart HRM and connect it to the phone or to a PM5
  2. Use a legacy HRM from Concept2 and connect it to a PM4

Instructions on how to connect a Bluetooth Smart HRM to your phone are on the “Upgrades” page.


Concept2 Erg Calculator

Concept2 Erg Calculator

Concept2 Erg Calculator

Ever wondered how far you would have to row to finally hit a 1:55 pace for 30 minutes? [7826m]  Ever wonder what pace you could maintain for 2000m based off that great 10,000m piece you just rowed? [1:45.1]  Ever wonder how your 2000m erg piece compares to your teammate (who happens to weigh 20 pounds more than you) if you got into a real boat? [use the calculator and find out]

The answer to all of these questions is available from the BoatCoach Erg Calculator.

The free and simple to use calculator is accessible from the BoatCoach erg dashboard.

The calculator does the following…

  • Computes time, distance, or pace based on you typing in the other two variables.
  • Computes your weight adjusted time and pace so you can easily compare with others
  • Generates a Projections table based on Paul’s Law* that forecasts your time and pace for distances ranging from 500m to 100,000m (if you’re feeling adventurous)



settings page

settings page

The settings page allows you to change the following parameters…

Enter Your Information

  • Your nickname, club, and boat (e.g. 1x, 8+…)
  • Your weight, which will be used to calculate calories
  • Your email, so that we can send you information about new product updates and to allow you to quickly email yourself your workout data.  We won’t spam you.

Upgrade to graphs, programs, data capture, or a bundle of all three.

Enter your login information for the Concept2 Online Logbook

Change your data capture settings

Modify basic rowing settings

  • Choose between manual or automatic mode for starting pieces. In automatic mode, BoatCoach starts and stops rowing pieces without you having to lift your finger.(this can also be done from the quick settings menu on the rowing dashboard
  • Display rowing distance in meters, kilometers, feet, miles
  • Display rowing speed in meters/sec, kilometers/hr, feet/sec , miles/hr, minutes/500m, minutes/1000m, minutes/mile, meters/stroke
  • Set the clock to 12 or 24 hour format

Enable Sensors

  • Turn on or off the GPS (on by default)
  • Turn on or off the rowing heart rate monitor (off by default)

Stroke Settings

  • Set the direction of the phone relative to the motion of the boat. The automatic setting is recommended.  Kayakers – please note that the automatic sense feature is disabled and you must manually choose your phone direction.
  • Adjust the sensitivity of stroke measurement (the automatic setting is recommended)