How to load your racing shell – It’s Trailer Time


Regatta season means boat trailer season. Whenever your team is heading to a race your boats need to be there too. Espec. when your club sends plenty of crews rowing in different boats. Loading your trailer is not an easy thing per se. It needs some planning.

What we do in our club?

We draw pictures. And at the end everything fits. We have research on how to lad a trailer and found many ways to do it. The closes way to our style is mentioned in Tanyanewmanrowing.

“It can be overwhelming to those who don’t know where to start, and it can be electrifying to see a fully (and well) loaded trailer. It can be excruciating to see one that isn’t so well done. I think of it as an art rather than a science. But I’m sure it takes a bit of both. Maybe it’s more of a science as it’s about being strategically positioned based on aerodynamics and balance…. but there is an “art” to achieving this.

Trailer loading and unloading is a skill to be learnt. It’s good to talk about the logistics of loading so this “art” can be shared, and people understand why or what to be looking out for when loading. It’s not just a random election that the boat being loaded goes there. Overhang, overall balance and symmetry, room for the vehicle towing, boat direction, placement on the trailer rails and more are all factors that need to be taken into account”.

Read also our E-Book Trailer driving 101 for clubs.

Do a first drawing: How to load your racing shell:

  • Question one: Do you know how many / which boats are being transported. Ideally they will draw up a diagram.

Light load trailer diagram

The picture above shows it is easy. Not many shells are loaded. Just make sure your trailer is balanced. We recommend to leave the bottom rail empty.Or at least load this area at the very end. This helped us to put trestles and other equipment into the trailer without hurting our heads. You will have easy access.

Best planning will include boat and trailer sizes.

This one is from a U 19 rower who planned  the loading procedure. Not very professional. At least he had measured the lentille and width of the boats. A good way to plan when small trailers are involved. Plus you will immediately realize the length of the boat ties.

Serious planning: Too many boats for a trailer?Full load trailer diagram

Question 2: How to load your racing shell when all your space is taken?

Look at this picture: “Note the tub 4+ is at the top as this particular trailer can’t fit a tub on the side rails, and it’s a heavy boat to be heaving in and out of the middle bay. One single (the Sally) is shown as being slung. Singles and racing 2x/2- may be slung.

Always check conditions: Tie down straps.

Be careful with slinging.

Generally speaking I do not really like it. Slinging a boat is a last resort, and not something you’d do if there is a spare bay to put the boat.

However, if done well, there is no disadvantage to slinging a boat (ie it is not less safe).

  • When loading, think about the practicality of tying the boats down too – start loading boats at the top of the trailer first, and from the middle bay! And wait for the boat to be tied down in the middle bay or before putting a boat underneath any boat.
  • The bow should be facing the direction of trailer travelling (think on water or on road, a boat should be facing the way it is travelling)
  • Sectioned ends of and eight should be facing away from direction of trailer travelling.
  • Generally the heavier boats should be lower down, but often they won’t fit – consider the overhang at the front of the trailer – is there room for the vehicle towing, and is there room for it to take turns? I’ve seen a trailer reloaded more than once to accommodate the towing vehicle!
  • Make sure the boat is resting on the gunwales and not the canvas area.
  • And don’t forget to strap each boat down.Make sure the boat is strapped at each end where the gunwale rests on the trailer rail…
  • When loading, it can be very beneficial to have one or more people sitting on the hitching end of the trailer to counter balance any weight of people at the other end of the trailer climbing up to put boats on – you don’t want the trailer to see saw. Be objective – don’t use your 20 kg young child to do this.

Final advice: Use good and new boat ties when you tie your boats to the trailer. Tie down straps wear out after a few years and replacements are not so expensive.

Boat Tie for quads and eights.

You might want to buy them in our shop. Use the yellow 2.5m straps for your single scullers and doubles. Quads and eights need the blue 3m straps.


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