Modern rowing has come a long way since the 18th century when the first regattas took place. 200 years ago we had heavy, wide, slow rowing boats that had to be crafted by hand by skilled craftsmen. These days we have carbon-composite rowing boats that can glide through the water with speed.
In this article, we will go over the principle points that should be considered when choosing between different rowing boats.
How do you choose the best rowing boat for your need?
When trying to choose between all of the different rowing boats and racing shells out there, it is important to consider a few key principles. The racing shell that you choose should depend on the type of activity you are partaking in. If you are planning on racing at an elite level, then your boat will be different from if you are rowing for leisure. Do you plan to row out on the sea or on a calm canal? Are you going to be rowing solo or as part of a team? Will you want to sweep or scull? Let us break these questions down for you to help you decide.
Key principles to consider:
- What type of rowing will you be doing: sweep rowing or sculling?
- How many rowers will be in the boat?
- What material do you require?
How will you use your rowing boats?
You will usually be choosing from the main 3 types of rowing boats. The rowing shell that you choose will depend on the type of activity that you plan on using it for.
Flat Water Shells
The main shells used for racing are the Flat water shells. These shells are streamlined and built for elite speed. The downside of these boats is that they can only be used when the water is calm and flat. Therefore rowers with these boats will spend their time on canals and calm lakes.
Open Water Shells
The open water shells are rowing boats that can be used on rough water compared to the flat water shells. They still are made to be maneuverable and light through the water, but can endure much more rough and tumble. These shells are ideal for rowing on the open ocean.
Traditional skiffs are the easiest of the three kinds of boats to use. These are the boats that we advise beginner rowers to use who want to be out on the water for leisure rather than for racing or competition. These skiffs are safe to use in a variety of situations.
Sweeping or Sculling?
WinTech Rowing boats come with either one, two, four or eight seats. These boats are classified according to how many rowers are in the boat and whether they are sculling or sweeping. Firstly, let’s define sculling and sweeping. Sculling is when rowers have two oars, one in each hand. Sweeping is where they only have one oar.
Sculling can be broke down into three different types:
- Single – 1x – one person rowing.
- Double – 2x – two people rowing.
- Quad – 4x – four people rowing.
When sweeping, the rowing boats can have an extra seat for the coxswain. The coxswain will control and steer the boat and usually will give coaching as the race goes on, encouraging the team on the speed of strokes etc. If your boat does not have coxswain in it then one of the rowers will steer by moving the rudder with their feet. This is a highly skilled position and will usually be done by an experienced rower.
Sweep rowers will come in pairs with the added coxswain (2+) or without (2-), quads with a coxswain (4+) or without (4-) and eight (8+). The eight sweep rowers always come with a coxswain. This is perhaps most famously seen in the Cambridge v Oxford university race that has been held since 1829. An elite team of 8 rowers is able to move their boat through the water at around 14 miles per hour.
How many seats will you need?
For the boats with more than one rower there are names that should be kept in mind. The different rowing team members are named by their seat in the boat. The rower in the bow is number 1, otherwise known as the bow, he or she will finish the race first. The next rower is number 2, then number 3, number 4, number 5, number 6, number 7 and number 8, known as the stroke. The rower in the number 8 position must be a powerful rower who can help to set the rhythm of the strokes and the number of strokes per minute.
Which material should you choose for your hull?
Rowing shells that are made for racing need too be as light and sleek as possible to give the crew the best advantage in the water. This can lead to the boat having issues with stability. This is why racing crews are usually the most experience rowers as they have mastered the art of stroke-timing and precision through the water. The boats ability and efficiency in the water is linked with two different aspects that are opposing in nature. Lightness and rigidity. To get the best out of the boat, the boat builders use advanced materials such as carbon fiber, kevlar and other composite materials.
To choose the type of hull that you need we have to go back to the reason why you are in the boat in the first place. Are you in it for leisure and enjoyment or are you in it for racing purposes? If you are doing it for enjoyment and leisure then you may be fine with a traditional skiff that is made out of wood or a lighter carbon fiber composite.
If you are in the boat for racing then you are going to want to use the most advanced materials on the market. This would mean that you will be wanting to use the carbon fiber composite hulls that are dominating the market right now.