I have been privy to a Facebook chat where the initiator asks this question
“Rowers, got any views on buying and selecting a new rowing boat. Budget is key and interested on views. Think SWIFT, Wintech v Janousek=Stämpfli.”
While not keen to start a public discussion on the benefits of any one boat maker compared to any other, this is a good time to look into the factors you need to consider.
Selecting a new rowing boat for your club
No boat can do everything – it can’t both teach beginners and race at the Olympics (unless you want to come bog last!). So, selecting a new rowing boat will be your job. So consider these different questions when narrowing down your selection.
- Start with your purpose – WHY do you want to buy a boat?
- Which groups in the club will need to use the boat?
- Consider their experience level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
- And their weight in kilogrammes – boats are built to sit in the water at the correct depth for an average athlete weight – and shoe size
- Selecting a rowing new boat and new riggers – wing or side mounted?
- What attachment method – Is a quick release system needed?
- Do you need to fine-tune adjustments like span, heights of swivel oarlocks? How easy to adjust do these need to be?
- Now onto the materials used in the hull – what boat design hull mould do you want? FISA has a “shape” which many boat builders use as it’s open-source. Or do you want something more experimental?
- Consider the full boat assembly materials – hull, deck, canvases – and the total boat weight because FISA and local rowing associations regulate minimum weights
- Some of us care about the colour too – do you want go-faster stripes?
- Fit out is the easiest part to customise. What do you need to adjust? Riggers, seat, slide tracks, shoes, stretcher angle, oarlock heights and pitch? There are many suppliers and some have a better reputation for being long-wearing. Also consider where you can get spare parts locally.
- Warranty – some manufacturers warrant their work for the hulls for 5 years
- And lastly, price – what can you afford. Remember boatbuilders may do “deals” throwing in coxing amplification looms to get the sale.
Lastly I’d recommend asking around – just like the discussion I witnessed where other owners were able to advise the questioner about how fitments failed and where they’d had good and less good experiences using the boats over time.
Buying second hand rowing boats
Get yourself a copy of Mike Davenport’s e book “Buy it right” – written by a professional boatman / rigger who works in the US University boat club system, Mike really knows the detail of the issues.
The book sets out a very clear 8 step process to ensuring your club buys the right equipment for the right price.
This is a reference book your club committee should have on their bookshelf (even though it’s virtual) because teaching new committee members how to choose and purchase equipment is a recurring job.
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