Saturday 12 December 2009

New Frontrower Boat

Ron Rantilla, inventor of the Frontrower system for...err...rowing to the front...has announced another boat specially designed to take it. And it looks rather good.
The Odyssey 165 is a 16ft 6in version of the Odyssey 180 that Ron has been selling for a while now. It is a long thin boat with a pronounced tumblehome to allow the oar as much swing room as possible.
The Frontrower is an odd sort of thing. Very complex, with levers and cables all over the place, but watch the video and see how the oars nicely catch, pull and feather on the recovery. The ability to steer by putting extra pressure on one side or the other is impressive, and it must be very nice to use just the legs so you can keep going while taking photos or having a swig from your flask.
The big drawback is the cost - the thick end of two thousand bucks, and for us in the UK that would be plus shipping, taxes and any highway robbery schemes Gordon Brown is plotting for the election runup.
However, I can recommend without qualification Ron's blog, which has some lovely rowing anecdotes including the story of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, who rowed 30 miles in a day to debate with the founder of the Quakers, George Fox (who failed to show). Williams was 70, and said that God helped his old bones over the distance.
And then there was Howard Blackburn, a doryman sailing out of Gloucester, Mass, in 1883. He lost his ship in a snowstorm. He lost his gloves, and knowing his hands would be useless without them, hooked them round the handles of his oars and struck out for land. His companion died, but he rowed for five days before hitting Newfoundland. He lost all his fingers and most of his toes but lived. An amazing tale of endurance.

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