Sunday 23 October 2011


I look very jolly in this picture, taken by that intrepid sailor Liz Baker at a picnic lunch on Fowley Island last weekend. As you can see, the weather was fabulous, the last knockings of our Indian summer, and it had been lovely to catch up with members of the Dinghy Cruising Association. I am rowing Kittiwake, which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite boats for aimless paddling.
But under the smile was bitter pain. I was trying out a new set of high-tech underpants in the hope that they would prevent my recurring problem with chafing on the bum.
A pair of Berghaus trews made of spandex had helped, but I had come to the conclusion that the main culprit was the Marks and Spencer cotton/polyester boxer shorts I favour. There seems to be very little advice available on the web concerning this fundamental problem, though I bet it is more widespread than many admit.
Cyclists are much more open on the subject, and they recommend special underpants to prevent saddle sores. So off I trotted to the cycle shop and invested more money than I have ever spent in my life on a pair of knickers - a score. Outrageous. And when I got them out of the box and saw the thick pad that is supposed to protect you from the saddle, I just knew they wouldn't work.
In fact, they made matters far worse, causing an extremely painful chafe that took all week to heal.
So the next day I popped into Aldi and there found a running set consisting of breathable vest and pants in some sort of stretchy polymer for the very reasonable price of a tenner (Aldi is cheapskate heaven).
On Wednesday I tried them out on a trip round Langstone Harbour in the teeth of a Force 5, and they gave no trouble in the botty department at all. I hope I may have cracked it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris Could the smile be anything to do with you finding this on "Hear the boat Sing" I might just be converted to rowing, or conversely frightened off !!,270&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=1014&vpy=111&dur=108&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=156&ty=71&ei=rsz7TKC4LoWhnAfHmoHJCg&oei=l8z7TLH0LMP_lgfVlciIBQ&esq=6&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:20,s:0&biw=1280&bih=590

Graham Neil said...

Altogether too much information.

Chris said...

After several years of skiffing on the Thames and stoically suffering the famous 'skiffers arse' I finally relented and tried a small pad of Karrimat camping mattress on the thwart. An instant solution which I highly recommend.

Chris Partridge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Partridge said...

David in Massachusetts writes:
I too once suffered from the chafing. I am also a bicyclist so tried the biking shorts early on, with mixed results. One day while having a brain cramp, I bought a pair several sizes too large. They were not practical for the bike, but worked perfectly on the boat and I have been wearing them in the hot weather ever since. During the colder months I wear a pair of Polar-tec fleece sweat pants under nylon rain pants (when it gets very cold) and that works just as well.
I also noticed the padding I use makes a difference. Seat pads made for kayaks seem to work out best. Under no circumstances do I wear underpants – they are an invitation to chafe and in-grown hairs!
Good luck!

Anders Eliasson said...

I like the expression "aimless paddling"
Isnt it what we are doing everytime we go out rowing?

Mayfly said...


Rohan do some that would almost certainly help. I have a few pairs of them and they are superb. See here:

Chris Partridge said...

I went rowing yesterday and tried a pair of running undershorts I bought in Aldi, which go down to the knee. They were very comfortable and chafe-free, but felt surprisingly draughty and cold, due I suspect to sweat wicking out through the material. Back to briefs, I think.

Sonia said...

Dear Chris... I discover your blog by chance and couldn't help but smile with this posting. I am a total ignorant... I went out rowing THREE times!! But on the very first day I was loosing my pants!! Being a yoga instructor I decided to wear the most common lycra underpants, the ones soccer players use under their shorts. I don't know if they will work after 3 hours rowing... Definitely all the ones that the thread has some texture won't work! I ENJOY your BLOG!!!!!!!