Rowing is a skill that so many athletes take for granted. It is more than common to watch athletes in every phase of a row (fresh, warm, and exposed) to lead with the shoulders and get behind the hips right after the catch. We have all seen it in our athletes and ourselves, the backwards lean like someone is laying back in a recliner and digging their feet into the plates.
Stop disconnecting your body and throwing energy and, subsequently, performance by the way side. Maintain your neutral spine, keep the shoulders in front of the hips, and let your legs create the large, initial acceleration (F=ma, higher acceleration = higher force output). Once you get near full extension of the knees, unleash your glutes for maximal force of hip extension and fall backward as you finish the pull. At this point, your shoulders will finally cross the plane of your hips and be behind them and not a moment sooner.
(Image courtesy of www.workoutandsupplements.com) and (Lifespan.com)