Wednesday 22 August 2012

Rowing Velocity

At the Manningtree Paddle and Oar Festival on Sunday we got a chance to row one of the new class of  coastal rowing gigs being built by the Pioneer Sailing Trust in Brightlingsea. Velocity was the first boat owned by Brightlingsea Coastal Rowing Club, and that's BCRC's Geoff in the coxing seat.
Velocity is 24ft long and cold-moulded in three layers of mahogany. The oars are gig oars from Suttons.
All the Pioneer Trust's boats are named after old fishing boats from their home port, and Velocity was named after a sailing smack from 1864.
There seems to be very little on the web about these interesting new boats, which is a shame as ten are being built and you and me are paying for them through funding by British Rowing, I understand.
The hull is a great design, fast and slipping easily through the water. 24ft is an ideal length for a rowing gig - not too heavy for the crew to haul out of the water and finding a place to put her is much easier than for a 32ft pilot gig.
Having said that, who thought thole pins were a good idea in a modern coastal rowing boat?
Thole pins might be lovely and wooden and traddy and everything, but they limit the swing of the oar and require constant adjustment of the blade that limits the power you can put in.
I can understand keeping thole pins in a reproduction Victorian boat like the Cornish pilot gig, but using them in a modern cold moulded hull makes no sense at all.
The problem now is that the thwarts are too close together to allow swivels to be installed to any effect. Everyone would simply be bashing their handle on the back of the rower in front.
It really is time that someone comes up with a modern fixed seat gig design that combines reasonably economical hull construction, ergonomically well laid out rowing positions, swivels and carbon fibre blades.

No comments: