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Rowing 101 - Basic Rigging
by Erik Dresser, row2k.com
posted on October 10, 2008


Rigging basics to get you started. For a definitions of terms, visit the row2k glossary.



LEVERAGE
How a shell is rigged determines how much leverage each rower has with the oar through the rigger. The four factors affecting the leverage are blade size, oar length, inboard length, and rigger spread. The crux of rigging the leverage is finding the right balance between load and efficiency for your athletes. The more load on each stroke, the more efficient your athletes are but the more quickly they will tire or injure themselves.


SPREAD
  • WHAT - The location of the primary fulcrum of the stroke, the oarlock pin.
  • WHERE - The distance from the centerline of the shell to the oarlock pin.
  • WHY - Increasing the spread decreases the effeciency of the rigging. The boat will feel lighter to the rower, but they will not be moving the shell as well with each stroke.
  • HOW MUCH - Average spread ranges from 81 to 88 cm. Factors determining spead are the skill and strength of the crew, as well as the size of the shell being rowed. Spread is adjusted by moving the pin away from or towards the shell.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - First, find the centerline of the shell at the rigger you want measure. Measure from the outside of one gunwhale to the outside of the other gunwhale perpendicular to the oarlock pin. Divide this number by two to find the distance from the gunwhale to the centerline. Next, measure the distance from the gunwhale to the center of the oarlock pin. Add the two measurements together for the spread.

  • SPAN

  • WHAT - In sculling, the locations of the primary fulcrums of the stroke, the oarlock pins.
  • WHERE - The distance from the starboard oarlock pin to port oarlock pin.
  • WHY - Increasing the span decreases the effeciency of the rigging. The boat will feel lighter to the sculler, but they will not be moving the shell as well with each stroke.
  • HOW MUCH - Average span ranges from 157 to 161 cm. Factors determining spead are the skill and strength of the crew, as well as the size of the shell being rowed. Span is adjusted by moving the pins away from or towards the shell.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Measure from the center of one oarlock pin to the center of the other oarlock pin. It is important to be sure that the two pins are equidistant from the centerline of the shell. Measure from the opposite gunwale to the pin for each side of the boat to make sure these distances are the same.

  • OAR LENGTH

  • WHAT - The length of the oar.
  • WHERE - Distance from the tip of the blade to the butt of the handle.
  • WHY - Decreasing the oar length decreases the effeciency of the rigging. The boat will feel lighter to the rower, but they will not be moving the shell as well with each stroke.
  • HOW MUCH - Average oar length ranges from 363 to 380 cm on sweep oars, 282 to 290 cm on sculling oars. The only recommended way to adjust oar length is by purchasing new oars that are the proper length, however some newer models now have adjustable lengths. Check with the manufacturer.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Measure the oar from the centerline tip of the blade to the butt of the handle.

  • INBOARD

  • WHAT - The section of the oar inside the oarlock.
  • WHERE - The length of the oar from the butt of the handle to the inside edge of the button.
  • WHY - Decreasing the inboard increases the effeciency of the rigging, but the boat will feel heavier to the rower and they will tire more quickly.
  • HOW MUCH - Average inboard length ranges from 112 to 116 cm. A general rule regarding inboard is that it should be approximately 30 cm greater than the spread. Inboard is adjusted by moving the button.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Measure on the oar from the butt of the handle to the blade edge of the button.

  • BLADE SIZE

  • WHAT - The surface area of the blade. There is considerable choice and variation in blade size and shape.
  • WHERE - The length and width of the oar's blade.
  • WHY - Increasing the blade size increases the effeciency of the rigging, but the boat will feel heavier to the rower and they will tire more quickly.
  • HOW MUCH - Approximate average blade surface area is between 1300 and 1385 square cm. The only recommended way to adjust blade size is by purchasing new oars with the correct size of blades.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - For a rough estimate, measure the blade length and width. Multiply the the numbers for an approximate blade size or to compare to other oars in a set. For a more accurate surface area, contact the manufacturer.



  • PITCH

    STERN PITCH

  • WHAT - The tilt of the oar's blade from perpendicular during the drive.
  • WHERE - Stern pitch can be adjusted through the oarlock, the rigger pin, or the oar itself.
  • WHY - Helps to maintain proper blade depth.
  • HOW MUCH - Average Stern Pitch ranges from 3 to 7 degrees, with 4 degrees being the standard.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Secure the shell so it is stable and does not move. Set your pitchmeter on either the deck or the gunwale of the boat, depending on the recommendation of the boatmaker. Zero the pitchmeter and set the bubble in the middle. Take the pitchmeter out to the pin, and set the pin at zero vertical pitch. Subsequently you set the pitch in the oarlock using pitch inserts that come with your boat.

  • LATERAL PITCH

  • WHAT - The tilt of the oarlock away from the centerline of the shell.
  • WHERE - Lateral pitch is measured at the oarlock at mid-drive.
  • WHY - Enables the oar to have varying stern pitches throughout the drive. A lateral pitch of 1 degree will increase the stern pitch at the catch by 1 degree and decrease the stern pitch at the finish by 1 degree.
  • HOW MUCH - Average Lateral Pitch ranges from 0 to 1 degree.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Secure the shell so it is stable and does not move. With a level or rigging stick across the gunwhales, zero the pitchmeter and set the bubble in the middle on top of the rigging stick. Next, remove the oarlock and measure the angle of the pin away from the centerline of the shell for the lateral pitch.



  • RIGGER HEIGHT

    OARLOCK HEIGHT

  • WHAT - The amount of carry of the oarlock over the surface of the water.
  • WHERE - The distance from the bottom of the oarlock to the surface of the water, however the easier measurement is usually measured from the top of the seat to the bottom of the oarlock.
  • WHY - The height of the oarlock needs to be high enough for the the blade to have a clean finish and recovery, but low enough so that the oar is still an efficient lever. The most effective height is one in which the rower finishes around the bottom of the sternum.
  • HOW MUCH - Average height of the oarlock from the top of the seat ranges from 11 to 18 cm. Oarlock height is most often adjusted by moving spacers above and below the oarlock pin.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - Use a rigging stick to measure the distance from the top of the seat to the center of the oarlock sill. Be sure the seat is all the way toward the stern of the shell and the oarlock is in the mid-drive position.



  • WORK THROUGH
    Work Through is how far a rower is rigged in front of or behind the oarlock pin; or the location of the outside arc of the stroke in relation to the oarlock pin. Generally, the faster the boat classification, the farther in front of the pin the shell should be rigged. The easiest ways to adjust the work through is with the tracks, the foot stretchers, and the rigger.


    TRACKS AND FOOTSTRETCHER

  • WHAT - The amount of track on the stern side of the oarlock pin.
  • WHERE - The distance from the front stops of the tracks to a perpendicular line through the oarlock pin towards the centerline determines the amount of work through in the rig.
  • WHY - To maximize the most powerful part of the stroke (mid-drive), the work through must be increased for faster shell classifications. First the tracks must be set to the desired work through, then the foot stretchers can be adjusted so that each rower reaches proper leg compression at the catch for the given work through.
  • HOW MUCH - Work through varies depending on hull speed, but averages from 0 to 2 cm for pairs, to 8 to 12 cm for eights.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - For a quick measurement of work through, measure from the center of the mid-drive knee (should be perpendicular to the oarlock rigger) to the bow end of the track's front stop. It's usually a good idea to place some tape next to the track to signify the location of the pin for easy reference.

  • RIGGER LOCATION

  • WHAT - Instead of adjusting tracks to get the proper work through, some riggers can be shifted towards the bow or stern to get the same effect.
  • WHERE - Adjusting the rigger moves the oarlock pin in relation to the front stops.
  • WHY - To maximize the most powerful part of the stroke (mid-drive), the work through must be increased for faster shell classifications. First the tracks must be set to the desired work through, then the foot stretchers can be adjusted so that each rower reaches proper leg compression at the catch for the given work through.
  • HOW MUCH - Work through varies depending on hull speed, but averages from 0 to 2 cm for pairs, to 8 to 12 cm for eights.
  • HOW TO MEASURE - For a quick measurement of work through, measure from the center of the mid-drive knee (should be perpendicular to the oarlock rigger) to the bow end of the track's front stop.




  • See Also
    Rowing 101 - Coxswain Calls
    (October 1, 2008)

    Rowing 101 - Glossary
    (April 9, 2008)

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