How reverse psychology & Dragons Den is helping prevent rowing blisters


A guest post from Emily Webb – Founder of Oarsome Potential – A woman on a mission to prevent the onset of blistered rowers’ hands

“You’ll never do it – it’s impossible” those famous last words from my rowing coach when I told him my plans for my GCSE design technology project. Perhaps it was intentional reverse psychology, but to any rower, those words ‘you’ll never do it’ instantly creates a target which has to be exceeded – and my 15 year old self was no different.

For years I had seen my fellow club members plagued by blisters on their hands, especially on our annual training camp in Banyoles, and some of the new freshers who joined our club at 13 years old were swept away by over-protective parents who didn’t want their children’s hand to be sore. As a club we were tough cookies, (our coaches made sure of that) and never complained – but I always secretly thought there should be a better way.

When I had to come up with a product idea for my GCSE project, my plan was to create something that helped prevent blisters both on and off the water – and I did just that. As I progressed from the concept, to design, to prototyping and testing I found that an additional feature of my product was that they naturally helped improve the technique of the person using them.

This is what they look like today – (not made from MDF anymore, luckily!) The Oarsome Grips (pictured) are ergonomically designed, antibacterial handgrips. By slightly increasing surface area for your hands, the Oarsome Grips prevent your skin bunching up (which causes blisters) and the honeycomb section of the design helps minimise strain and naturally puts your wrist in a strong position.

A twist of fate came into play one normal day when I was studying at Exeter University. I was called by one of the researchers at Dragons Den asking if I’d considered applying for the show and giving me 99 reasons why I should.

I was so unsure… however, I believe opportunities don’t knock twice… I was fast-tracked through the process and found myself walking up the stairs in to the Den to present my Oarsome Grips to Peter, Theo, James, Duncan and Deborah. It was a huge personal challenge, intense pressure both in the build up and throughout filming, and there was a point in the den when if I’d been asked my name, I couldn’t have said it! You can view the clip here.

When I appeared on the show, I had sold 6 units to the Welsh Disability Sport Federation; their High Performance Coach had seen real potential in the adaptive sports industry. I felt so proud when James Caan described the Oarsome Grips as ‘genius’ and Duncan Bannatyne stated his support of the Oarsome Grips and I have remained in touch with Deborah Meaden since the show.

Post-Dragons Den, my world has changed, I have now sold thousands of units and have endorsements and support from coaches and athletes from around the world – we are still growing!

The Oarsome Grips are can be used on ergs, sculling oars, sweep oars, adaptive rowing equipment, and by ocean rowers – and more!

Special offer to Rowperfect readers:

For 1 week Emily is selling OarsomeGrips on the Rowperfect shop for a discounted £19.99 (normal price £24.99) with FREE shipping.

Get yours now – be sure to choose the correct colour to match your ergometer manufacturer.

If you have any questions or just general chat, we love to talk all things rowing so tweet us @OarsomeGrips or send us an email We also have a lovely website that has loads of information about the Oarsome Grips, if you want to check out the various options available:


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