One of the biggest improvements to rowing boat technology has been the easy to change height washer. Called many things from spacers, rigger spacers, snappies, and (by a Grumpy Boatman of my acquaintance) “Ping F**K Washers” – because they ping off and you go….oh darn!, these useful little rings of plastic allow oarlocks to be raised and lowered to suit crews of different height and weight with minimum fuss.
You can lever them off and re-arrange above or below the gate while on the water, although I wouldn’t do it alone in my single!
My club bought a hundred and used them before a big regatta when men and women were sharing boats – we could easily change them around between races. Nobody was disappointed. The Decent Rowing folks even recommend them as a permanent addition to your boat.
So which ones should you buy?
Rowperfect Buying Guide: height adjustment washers
Selling the Martinoli brand “Clip on Spacers” for AU$1.10 each including tax this is at the pricer end of the market.
On the plus side – a lovely shade of blue – and two flared edges makes these the easiest to push on and off the rigger pin. They don’t ship outside Australia.
Martinoli don’t list them on their website but say “you can buy directly from us, it is art.5E and it costs Euro 0,16 plus vat each piece” contact email@example.com
Sell the worst design – no flanges and only in one size. Listed under Pins in their shop they sell for £0.85 each including VAT.
Probably the man who invented them, Carl calls them Snappers and sells 5 for £2.00. The pack has four 6mm Snappers and one 3mm thick Snapper. Sadly without flanges. But once you’ve got your gorgeous CDRS boat set up, you probably will only change heights if it’s very rough water.
Another Aussie variation called Posi Clips – two variations in yellow and red 2.5mm yellow and 5mm red. Design is a bit different this time with a little round knob to pull them off.
Having experienced them on borrowed boats at a regatta, let me tell you, the round knob is not enough to get any purchase on with your bare hands. You need a pin to put through the hole to pull them out. Blimming annoying when out on the water and needing to drop your height. Price is AU$0.36 each for both sizes.
Snap on height washer available in one colourful red and in 3mm or 6mm depth options.
Price is £0.12 each including VAT plus £3.50 shipping (although clicking their web shop plus button to add one more to your basket is irritating. Lucky I don’t want 100!).
The Americans have the most colourful story behind their design. Supplied in a natty electric green, these are one size and sold in bulk 25 or 50 or 100 to a pack. Currently on special discount $34.25 down from $40 (or $62.60 or $90 for larger quantities).
I reproduce the story behind the product in full below – it’s too good to miss.
The Rigger Spacer Story
During the week of the San Diego Crew Classic a very close friend of mine, Greg LeSage of Potomac Boat Club, sat me down and asked what was the one thing we could change in the sport of rowing. It had to be simple and had to be easy. We put our heads together and picked the one thing that bugs every rower and coach – the rigger spacer!
How many times have you had to ask the rower behind you or in front of you to lean out the other side so you can change your height? How many times have you LOST the spacer? How many times has your coach yelled to you “MAKE IT QUICK!” when you needed to change your spacers?
The overall consensus was that the spacer was the ONE thing we could change that could make a big impact on the rower and coach. A few designs later and the use of a 3-D printer, we came up with the new rigger spacer. We worked closely with Johnny Forrest to make sure the patent was filed – still patent pending. We contacted a Chicago based engineering company to help with the mold and material.
Once the design and mold was complete we had to work on a color. Well, white was out. Yellow was already done. Hot pink was not going to work (Croker already took that idea). Blue was out. So where did that leave us? Bright GREEN! It’s a color that truly stands out and its unique to the sport of rowing. And by the way – it looks fantastic coupled with the beautiful Empacher Yellow.