Rowing Gear

Rowing Gear Trial-and-Error.

Having been a rower / sculler for years, I have collected and tried many different types of gear pertaining to safety, gloves, monitoring and tracking. In this post I highlight the types of equipment I regularly use both for outdoor sculling and indoor ergometer rowing. I preface this post by stating that I am not advertising for a particular product and am not receiving a commission from any product in particular. I merely highlight those that I have converged on over the years.

Oxford Shell

Seat pads.

I have tried many. Those who have been rowing understand the numbness that can arise in legs related to sciatica. There are natural methods (massage, exercises) to ameliorate or rid this issue. But, what helps is a good rowing seat pad. I have found the seat pad offered by Revolution Rowing to be comfortable and durable. I have several of these, one of which I use for my Oxford Shell, one for my Concept II Model D Ergometer, and one for my Oar Board SUP rower.

Seat Pad
Oar Board Standup Paddle Board Rower

Gloves.

I have tried many different varieties, including sailing gloves and retail store apparel. I have converged on the CrewStop glove. I have found it to offer the most protection and most comfort, particularly for long-hauls on either water or Erg.

CrewStop Glove

Rearview Mirrors.

I have used many, and you should use what works. I have found the sculling mirror sold by Coxmate to be of superior value for me as it is a large yet light mirror and enables me to see peripherally.

Coxmate sculling mirror

Personal Flotation Device.

I wear one…most of the time. There are exceptions. The hip-surround units like the one in the photo do not get in the way of the arms, oars, or motion. I have two of them. They can be obtained through West Marine or other favorite sources, including Amazon.com.

PFD

Monitoring.

I am into data…bigly :-). The most reliable technology I have found (…and I have tried many…) is Polar H10 heart rate sensors and chest strap together with the Polar beat app. I include the photo again which shows the seat pad and the Polar chest strap on top. I keep my iPhone in a waterproof case on-board and this allows integration of the heart rate measurements (1-second increment) with the GPS location. I know how far I row, what my heart rate is wherever I am, and I get real-time feedback audibly in the boat.

Polar Beat Chest Strap.

Peripheral Equipment and Epilogue.

I maintain an attachment for GPS (GPSMap 78sc) mounted on my outrigging together with a camera mount for photos of the scenery. These come in handy on occasion, particularly for obtaining unique shots here on the Elk River in the northern Chesapeake Bay Area.

Despite the above and the available software for rowers on iPhone, Android and iPad, I am writing my own rowing application as I have not found anything yet that meets my specific requirements. As this develops and becomes available for testing, I will write a post entry on that, as well.

Introducing the Oxford Shell

I have been a water enthusiast my entire life–from power boating with my father as a child to sailing small sailboats as a teenager and eventually owning two sailboats (one large, one small) as an adult. I have also been an avid fan of rowing & sculling since my freshman year in college some thirty…. er, ah…a long time ago.

21 foot Oxford rowing shell – view 1

I recently acquired a stick-built Oxford shell (depicted). This is a wooden vessel… weighs somewhere on the order of 50 lbs or so… and is beautifully finished by the builder with multiple layers of varnish and a professional paint job below the water line. She is approximately 21 ft in length and a joy to row.

Some other photos follow this.

21 ft Oxford shell – a view of the Pantedosi rowing drop-in.

She features a Piantedosi rowing rigging (seat, stretchers, outriggers) and I have added a few things onto her, like a holder for my Garmin GPS unit and a seat-saver seat on top of the slide.

21 ft Oxford shell – in the water awaiting the rower.

She rides true and fast. I normally pace at about 20 strokes per minute, but have sprinted up to 24-26. She has just about a 2 ft beam. The key to stability is making sure the oars are in the water on the feather when getting in and out. Stability, balance and grace are the essence of rowing and it is like meditation rowing her.

Oxford shell on the Elk River; Elkton, MD

I am developing some rowing apps in iOS and Swift to assist in guiding and tracking her motion. As these are developed and rolled out, will be writing about them and sharing, as well.