row2k Features
Rowing Hack: The Launch Box
July 16, 2020
John FX Flynn

Rowing Hacks are back with a great suggestion from dedicated Hack fan Matt Hopkins. Coach Hopkins has read enough of these columns that he has the format down pretty well, so we will just let him explain this one himself. It's a good one for those with some extra time and a hankering to do some worthwhile woodworking: The Launch Box.

"Safety is the back ground hum that makes our teams work, without it no one would trust us with our jobs or athletes. We coaches much prefer to focus on going fast and building our teams, but when our safety systems break down and something goes wrong, suddenly going fast doesn't matter anymore. This idea is a simple piece of equipment you can put in place that will greatly shore up your safety plan:

Build boxes or chests into each of your launches so that all of your needed safety gear is always there ready to go. I have seen way too many coaches walk down to their launch to coach a bunch of eights with a few PFD's threaded onto a paddle in one hand and their note book and hailer in the other. This Launch Box idea can greatly increase the likelihood that all of your coaches will have all of that crucial safety gear when they are out on the water.

Coast Guard regs require a PFD for each rower under a coach's supervision — are you really making two or three trips to your launch to carry all of those PFDs each practice? I coach on a narrow, high current river that would be very hostile to wakeless launches, and as we are the only crew on our stretch we coach from flat bottomed, aluminum Jon boats.

Here are two boxes that we have built into our launches that can hold 3 bags of 9 PFDs, a paddle, med kit, tool kit, hailers and all kinds of other gear--all ready to go at the start of practice and stored under lock and key.

Wakeless launch versions vary, but most cross the pontoons in the bow or the stern and double as seating. Unfortunately most of the boxes provided by the launch manufacturers can't hold nearly the number of PFD's a typical scholastic or collegiate coach needs, so you will probably have to build your own.

Pressure treated plywood is the low budget material of choice, but if you can afford a bit more, Okoume plywood is a renewable tropical hardwood that makes a rocking marine grade plywood. Okoume and some fiberglass taped seams will make a box that will go the distance."

So, there you have: how to build, and pack, your Launch Box. We might add that a box like this would be a great place to stow or even mount a copy of your latest Safety Card - just in case you like stacking hacks.

We have to say, this is some great hacking, Coach - let's see how many more of these we spot out in the wild when we all get back to rowing full time.

Have any great hack ideas like Coach Hopkins here? Or a clever way your program makes sure all the safety equipment is close at hand? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion here? 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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