66 pieces of advice about rowing equipment I thought I'd share on my birthday
Mike Davenport turned 66 recently and shares the following nuggets cleaned year after hard-earned year.
1. With all things equal a clean boat will be a faster boat.
2. The piece of equipment that doesn't sound right, doesn't feel right, or doesn't smell right probably has an issue. Trust those three senses.
3. The piece of equipment that looks right after you made an adjustment may not be. Don't trust your sight; measure it instead, especially the pitch.
4. The closer a rower gets to 1,000,000 stokes the more insightful and valuable their opinion is about the rowing equipment. Up until that time just smile and nod.
5. Most snap spacers don't float, and the ones that do will eventually float away from you.
6. Don't adjust the rowing equipment so it will be "faster"...adjust it so the rower can be more effective. The competition decides who is faster.
7. A hammer has no place around rowing equipment except in the hands of a trained professional. And even then only to be used as a last resort.
8. Keep in mind...the piece of rowing equipment you abuse will get revenge— at a time and place of its choosing.
9. A vehicle towing a shell trailer loaded with a non-sectional eight is longer than most semi tractor-trailers. That should cause you concern every time you get behind the wheel of the towing vehicle. If it doesn't then let someone else drive.
10. No one expects today will be the day you get a flat tire on a shell trailer.
11. The amount of grease you get on your hands from a trailer hitch is proportional to how new your clothes are.
12. There are three sentences that will stop a rowing coach in her tracks: "Hey Coach, I just threw up in the boat", "Hey Coach, I have a couple left-over nuts", "Hey Coach, got a knife?"
13. If you like a piece of rowing equipment its life expectancy will be shorter than you want.
14. Broken or torn rowing straps cannot be repaired remove it immediately from your rowing area and take it far far away. Bad rowing straps and broken slings always find their way back into your boathouse unless you drive them more than 20 miles away, and even then... (they are the Houdinis of a boathouse) - ...
15. Helping a person with their rigging is a powerful way to make new friends and help old ones if you truly know how know what you are doing
16. WD-40 is a helpful tool but not around rowing.
17. Use the "Rules of 9" to help with which rigger goes where when switching the stroke side of an eight. "Rules of 5" will work for a four. (The “rule” is the number of the rowing station and the number of a specific rigger added together.)
18. The purpose of rowing equipment is to help a rower get what they want from their rowing. So a rower who wants to get back-to-nature doesn't need top-of-the-line racing equipment. And the Olympic rower will be unsatisfied with anything less than the best.
19. Grease marks on the back of a rower’s leg is a shell's way of saying you are behind in your cleaning.
20. The notched end of a tape measure is called the "Dumb End." The other end is called the "Smart End." Regardless, both ends are equally important.
21. When starting out coaching make it a habit to spend at least one year watching, asking questions, learning. Then keep those habits going for as long as you coach.
22. Most rowing equipment will tell you what it needs if you just listen with all your senses.
23. When searching for something in the boathouse and you find it put it back where it BELONGS when you're done with it.
24. Rowing equipment is amazing...and expensive. Most things that are amazing are.
25. Laughing at yourself when you make a rigging mistake can reduce your stress. Laughing at others when they make a rigging mistake helps no one.
26. A clean rag never stays clean for long.
27. A flat space in a boathouse with nothing on it is a short-lived phenomenon.
28. PFDs are like car seatbelts...when you need it, it could save your life. Yet most rowing coaches do not wear PFD's when they coach. I've yet to hear one good reason why.
29. When a rower complains loudly about the adjustment of the equipment it is often not the equipment that needs the attention.
30. Beware of the rower who adjusts their foot stretcher without first taking his feet out of the sneakers.
31. Most rowers and coaches did not take disinfecting equipment seriously until COVID 19. Many won't once the virus is under control.
32. Most rowing equipment is widely adjustable but typically you use less than 50% of that range of adjustment.
33. Rowing shells and oars spend 95% of their lives in racks.
34. 15% of rowing shell and oar racks are either unsafe or unusable. Yours?
35. Rowing straps will get revenge at the worst possible time.
36. A boathouse is like a Blackhole...with its gravitation pulling in any and all sorts of junk. It is incredibly hard to get a boathouse to give up that junk.
37. A rowing sling can be your best friend or hated enemy. Do all you can make it the former.
38. Other drivers will typically have one of three reactions when they see a fully loaded trailer on the highway: they will be frightened, they will be inquisitive, or they will be oblivious. Each case could make your job of driving that trailer more difficult.
39. When first learning to work with rowing equipment, make mistakes. Keep going. Don’t stop. And know that you will keep making mistakes but they will be of less consequence as you get better.
40. Spare parts will save the day...maybe not today but certainly tomorrow.
41. Bleach and ammonia can form a deadly mixture. It's okay to keep either one in the boathouse but not both.
42. Have a love-love relationship with your launch, for if you don't your life as a coach will be infinitely more challenging.
43. When rowing, a rower touches the equipment in five places (feet, seat, calves, oar, gunwale). Make sure each is clean, sturdy, and safe.
44. Tools and parts left in a rowing shell will show up when the shell is rolled over, usually when the boathouse is full of people.
45. Saving money by not purchasing insurance is like not having your car serviced. Save a few bucks now or pay an enormous price later.
46. A paddle in a launch can save the day in many different ways.
47. Most things will work again once they have been turned off for a period of time—including rowers and coaches.
48. Most items dropped will be within a 3’ radius except for the one-of-a-kind nut you need. There is no limit to how far that nut will roll.
49. Rowing coaches can be divided into two categories: Those who have fallen overboard and those who will fall overboard.
50. Rowing shells and parrots are a lot alike—both demand lots of love and both can make strange noises at any time.
51. A smart phone can be a helpful tool or a dangerous distraction. It is your decision which it is.
52. A rowing regatta is the Grateful Dead concert of sports.
A rowing regatta is the Grateful Dead concert of sports
53. To rig a boat well, just do it. To rig a boat exceptionally well, re-do it again and again.
54. A stroke watch can be a helpful tool but it has to be with you.
55. The life span of a battery is usually but not always long enough.
56. That pile in the corner of the boathouse that you have become oblivious to is the Universe's way of saying, "Yo, you still have more work to do. "
57. Be generous with your knowledge, it is how we all get better.
58. Rowers who take time to wash and clean their equipment are saving money, reducing injuries, showing respect—not just making things shine.
59. Those who wait to check the trailer lights for the first time in the season, just before they depart for a trip, are usually up for a nasty surprise and delayed departure.
60. Recipe for exceptional rigging: over-prepare and set aside twice as much time as you expect it will take.
61. You are only as good as you are with your tools. Taking time to learn how to use them often pays great dividends.
62. On regular intervals try rigging an entire boat by yourself (except immediately before a race). It's a great way to get confidence in what you do know and identify what you don't.
63. When you get behind the wheel of any vehicle transporting a rowing shell you are representing rowers around the world—it doesn't matter whether you want that responsibility or not.
64. A coach who needs to use a hammer, blow torch or epoxy/fiberglass on race day is by most accounts not having a good day.
65. Almost everything we know is or will be found to be wrong. Always keep that in mind when getting advice.
66. If one rower in a sweep boat complains about everyone else in the boat, put them in a single.
Mike Davenport, Co Author, Water Ready: THE book on everything you need to know to keep your equipment, boathouse, launch, and trailer in shape and SAFE.