FISA’s Rule 60 regarding innovations in equipment is so comprehensively worded to avoid any unfair advantage that you’d wonder why anyone would dare make any changes in this sport of ours. Nonetheless several companies are focusing on the foot stretcher and rowing shoes to give us a bigger range of positions and movements as well as improving the drive.
Starting with making the shoe fit we have Active Tools and Ankaa Rowing Shoes. They both have models that can be adjusted for size: a solution for those of you who need to fit more than one crew into a boat – something for Cinderella and her sisters!
NewWave are also looking at customizing their equipment for the individual rower and have developed a footplate that allows you to change the angle of the foot by rotating the fixings on the balls of your shoes. This could be the way round uneven pressures in sweep rowing or to negate the effect of having one leg noticeably shorter than the other. The other difference they have made – so simple but so effective – is to put the height adjustments between the shoes: no more trying to squeeze washers and nuts round the sides of the shoes onto plates with no more room when you want to raise the feet – hurrah!
Shimano have taken their cycling shoes a step further and have clip-in shoes that you can wear into the boat and out of the boat. These come with a much firmer sole and pivot round the ball of your feet with the idea of making your drive much more direct and efficient.
Bat Rowing have changed the shape of the foot plate; their shoe plate is curved to bring you onto your toes earlier in the recovery and onto your heels sooner in the drive
We know of at least one other design coming into production – watch this space – but what is your experience of these innovative footstretcher and shoe designs? Do they meet the manufacturers’ claims? To whom would you recommend them? Do you know of anyone else working along these lines?