row2k Features
Rowing Hack: Stow Stern Flags Smarter
January 13, 2022
John FX Flynn

Here's a trick we spotted at the Charles last fall: keeping your stern flags handy--and ready for reloading-time--by hanging them right on the trailer as you pull boats off.

This trick fits right in with the prime Hacking tenet that simpler is smarter, and it pretty neatly keeps your flags in one spot, closest to where you will need them next.

After all, if the most important thing about stern flags is that they wind up back on the sterns, why not keep them near to hand? This trick sticks them right on the end of the trailer, making it pretty much impossible to forget to put them back on the boats before you hit the road home.

Naturally, you would not want to store your stern flags this way long-term, in between trips, but at a regatta--where shells will be rigged, raced, and reloaded a day or so later--it works like a charm, and makes sure the flags will be ready to go back on boats once racing is over.

We could even see this trick being of use on a short training trip, providing a simple place to stash the flags for the week so that they don't get misplaced before the trip home.

As an added bonus: hanging the flags this way will keep the tail-end of your trailer just a bit extra visible while it is parked, so no one walks into your light bar while the boats are off doing their rowing thing.

Now, if you've already upped your stern flag game with some small carabiners and some lightweight u-brackets on each stern, then you can just clip the flags onto a light bar strut without messing with knots, but even the "tied-on" stern flags are just a girth hitch away from hanging just so, as seen in the photo. (And you can consider this just one more argument for having closed loops of line on your stern flags, which, of course, frees you forever from having to undo tiny knots cinched tight by a few hundred miles of highway speed flag-fluttering.)

If you already have a great on-site system your team knows--and uses--at regattas, then stick with that. We've seen flags stuffed into Spirit Sticks, to be stowed along with the seat bungees, and collected in the lids of trusty Team Wrench Boxes, but if you want to cut out the middlemen, and maybe make the flags a bit harder to miss at loading time, just look to the light bar.

Have a good trick that helps your team out on the road and gets your trailer loaded right? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.

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01/13/2022  8:10:53 AM
The best hack for stern flags is to use flags that meet the legal requirements of the jurisdiction. For example, in NJ any load hanging 4 ft beyond the rear of a vehicle needs a red flag at least 18 inches square. The flags shown in the picture do not comply with this size requirement. Similarly, most flags observed to be attached to the ends of boat covers would not comply with NJ Law. It would also be a mistake to assume that every jurisdiction has the same requirements. In case of a citation or worse, a mishap, you would not want to be in the circumstances of having your counsel trying to explain why you had not informed yourself of the local regulations and complied with them precisely - especially when it’s so simple. NB: Lights required for night travel are a separate but equally important topic.

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