Getting Your Rigging Right: How the EmPower Oarlock Helps

Getting Your Rigging Right: How the EmPower Oarlock Helps by Alix James; photography by Bálint Czucz

I've been spending lots of time in team sculling boats the last two seasons, so I loaned my personal single to an aspiring elite in our boathouse. She just got a new boat, so I got mine back full time, but she and her coach had made major changes to the rigging to suit her. Time to re-rig my boat for me – always a challenge!

Like most of us, I've always rigged my boat by feel – tweaking a little here and there until it feels right. But this time, I just couldn't get it there. Between rowing lots of different doubles and quads, and starting with almost everything in a different spot from my previously unmarked locations in my boat, I was really struggling to get back to baseline.

So, first step – got my coach (but any observant friend could do this) – to look at my boat's levelness to the waterline through the stroke. This resulted in me moving my rigger to stern – an option on my bow-rigger Hudson.

Next step – checked my spread and inboard. Spread was still at the expected 160cm, but I found the inboard on my blades was pretty hefty – probably from matching oars up with teammates at head races last fall, so I dialed it back a centimeter, reducing my overall blade length in the process.

Next, I turned on my EmPower Oarlock and hit the water with Catch Angle and Finish Angle showing. Hmm, 57 catch and 43 finish, and still not getting that nice open, locked on feeling at the catch. I pushed my feet to stern one notch at a time until I was at 60/61 and 40 and – voila! I finally felt at home in my boat again, and my splits dropped to prove it. By reducing my inboard slightly I felt less crowded at the finish, and could push through the pin just a bit more – hitting the angles that are a good target for a smaller (read height-challenged) woman rower. It was confidence-building to know that what felt right also matched BioRow's representative values for a mid-level woman sculler.

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