row2k Features
Rowing Hacks: The PVC Back Stay Stower
June 11, 2020
John FX Flynn

Quarantine down-time is the perfect excuse for getting into some Rowing Hacks that, well, require some actual hacking to come up with the finished, and useful product. One of the oldest re-purposing hacks out there, turning a length of PVC tube and some fittings into a bend-proof back stay holder that will survive a lifetime of trips in the beds of trucks and trailers alike, is a perfect project for our times. So here it is: The PVC Back Stay Stower.

This hack is not a difficult build by any measure, but it does take some pre-planning, and time for the PVC glue to dry, so this is not something you can hack up on the way out the door to the races-you need it ready-built and set to go before the loading starts.

Using PVC tubes for this purpose goes way back, even to the early 90s which is about as far back as we, um, "young" hackers like to go, and so it is fitting that our example pic comes from that late 80s-early 90s epicenter of college championships, the Ten Eyck Boathouse in Syracuse. Now, we don't know if this particular tube goes all the way back to the Bill Sanford days but it certainly could have been around then-these things last forever.

But even if a hack has been out there a while, that doesn't mean it is in use everywhere-yet!-so if you haven't made yourself one of these, then get over to the Plumbing section on your next Depot run and pick up a few things.

You'll need a length of PVC long enough for your backstays-3 feet should do the trick-and with a diameter that will let you get enough spares in there to make it worth while. We like to overbuild, so go with a 6 inch interior diameter and you will have plenty of spare-space to spare. Then you will need a socket cap for one end and, for the "get stuff out" end, a threaded end cap and a threaded clean-out plug. Oh, and some PVC primer-yep, the purple stuff-and PVC cement to put it all together.

From there, you can get fancy: paint it up in your boat club's colors, put a handle on it, or-as we saw at another upstate place where the boatman clearly had a long winter to work with - attach a strap to it at each end, so you can sling it like a quiver over your shoulder. (note: not a recommended carry strategy when walking through an airport if you are flying with your spare backstays-looks a little too weapon-ish for TSA's liking.)

The chief benefit of this back stay storage hack-apart from creating a convenient place to store all your spares and an easy way to grab all of them at once for a trip-is the aforementioned indestructibility factor. Instead of having to make sure the backstays go into the bed of the truck last, in a special "won't get bent spot" or, heaven-forbid, in the cab where they will take up valuable person-space, the team with one of these in their arsenal can throw their spare backstays pretty much any place, to include the trailer bed, and be confident that that they will have perfectly straight spares to use when the backstays on the boat get "mysteriously" bent on the road.

So, get to hacking, row2k friends and, while you are in the plumbing section, don't forget all those other great PVC uses around the boathouse: start/finish line alignment poles: low boys for portable boat storage, goose pole holders, erg technique tools, and megaphone holsters. Go plastic!

Have a great PVC project or trip-packing trick that helps out at your boathouse? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Likewise, if you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion: Send it to us!

During these unprecendented times, row2k is working hard to keep rowing coming to you; please help us keeping it coming by supporting our work!


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06/11/2020  10:02:34 PM
I like this idea and have two variants: 1. Use "thin-walled PVC" instead of the super thick "schedule 40" stuff in the photo. Thin-walled is much lighter and has a much larger interior dimension while being plenty tough enough to protect your gear. 2. All that said, I used a nylon tote bag from a long-ago junked bag chair. It has a drawstring top and a handy shoulder strap. Perfect.

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