Rig Up Your Life Lesson 1: WHAT IS RIGGING?


From our wanderings around in the sport of rowing, it seems a lot of people involved aren't comfortable with the rigging of rowing equipment.

Truthfully, we think a lot of people are just downright intimidated by it. We know some souls who believe a rigger has a mind of its own. Once I bumped into a club rower who, instead of adjusting his rigger, went around the boathouse switching riggers with all the other boats until he found one that looked like it worked.

Let's get personal. What about you?

Does your rowing equipment intimidate you?

Do you think it's a Rubik's Cube, a mystical and mysterious puzzle only to be mastered by a chosen few?

What happens when the rigging of your boat needs attention? Do you ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Do you get in there and try to fix it yourself, or do you stand by idly with a puzzled look on your face waiting  for the cavalry to arrive?

And what if it's your first time rigging–where do you start?

When your car needs service you can take it to a garage, when the washing machine goes on the blink you call in the repairman, but when there is a rigging problem, who is going to fix it? I want you to look in the mirror for the answer!

We are true believers that anyone can rig, from the complete novice who has never held a spanner to the absolute klutz who cannot walk up a flight of stairs without tripping. Mike Davenport, writer of The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Rigging has written books, articles, and taught a wealth of rigging clinics with this thought in mind. You should be able to fix any problem with the rigging of your equipment. If this thought makes you nervous, then you're in the right place..


One of the most interesting things to do is ask the participants this question:

What is your definition of rigging?

The answers we get are pretty interesting.

The most common definition Rowperfect get is that rigging is just changing or adjusting the riggers on a rowing shell. When that that answer is heard, a little discussion is usually needed with them.

You see, defining rigging in that way is like saying teaching is just writing on a blackboard or that plumbing is only unstopping clogged toilets. There's more to teaching and to plumbing than that. And there's certainly more to rigging.

A lot more.Part of the discussion is to give them the definition of rigging. And with that, to tell them that a few of the things rigging involves are:

  • Determining the best type of equipment for your team or you to row, especially considering body size and the conditions rowed in.
  • Using your brain to figure out what rigging measurements to use when you make adjustments to the equipment.
  • Deciding when and where it is best to make the adjustments.   
  • Figuring out how to make the adjustments.
  • Getting your hands on tools and being concerned about the safety of the equipment that is rowed.
  • Checking your work to see if you did a good job.

It is usually at this point that eyes open up and definitions of rigging change.


An interesting aspect of rigging that escapes many folks is that rigging is both an art and a science.
You see, there is science involved in finding the correct rigging measurements to use. And there is science involved in transporting and maintaining the equipment. And there certainly is science involved in storing the equipment.
On the other hand, rigging involves an artistic viewpoint.

There is art in planning how to use the equipment and in buying it and in determining how best to move it. And there is also art involved in making the adjustments.


It boils down to this: rigging is a multi-faceted activity, involving a wide range of tasks.At this point we want to stress this: don't get overwhelmed!

In our series of featured blog posts by guest writer Mike Davenport, the following six lessons will help you get started in rigging. Over the next six lessons, we will be discussing many of those tasks of rigging.

In Lesson 2, we get into some of the myths of rigging. I've found that discussing those myths can greatly help people feel more comfortable about rigging.


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