Anyone who has ever coached solo in a Jon boat has needed a variation of this week's Rowing Hack at some point: a counterweight to keep the bow of your launch level enough to see your crew while you steer--and coach--from the stern.
Of course, anything heavy will do the trick, but Robinson High School fixes this issue with their launches on the Occoquan by using this purpose built--and custom painted--Rowing Hack: The Bow Weight Box.
Like every great hack, The Bow Weight Box is pretty simple but still represents a clear step up from the usual make-do solutions you see for trimming a launch with only one coach in it.
Sure, you can "just" use a cinder block or two, a hunk of driftwood, or a spare athlete to weigh down the bow, but with this Robinson hack, you won't wind up with chipped cement blocks that weigh less over time, or a muddy, decaying chunk of wood, and you can give that spare athlete something better to do for practice than be a counterweight.
The genius of this hack is the wooden box: inside, they put a few pavers to make a 8-10 pound weight just the right size for the job.
"They fit nicely between the ribs of the Jon boat," said recently retired Robinson Girls Coach, Kevin Murphy, when we asked him about this hack.
With the weight enclosed in the box, it can't scratch the boat--or the person carrying it to the launch--and you can use really anything heavy inside to create the desired heft: pavers, bricks, old weight plates, chunks of the cinder blocks you used to use, etc.
The eye hook on top of the Bow Weight Box can be used to carry it, or even to turn it into a makeshift way to tie onto a dock or use it as an anchor in a pinch--and we bet these could even travel to away races as pretty handy tie-down weights for the team food tent on a windy day.
Being able to easily apply a custom paint job is an added bonus of the wooden box, and one that Murphy takes credit for, even though the boxes themselves predated his tenure. A box done up in school colors, Murphy found, really comes in handy if your team, like Robinson's, practices at a boathouse with more than a dozen separate teams sharing boat bays and dock space.
Maybe the best feature of all? The Bow Weight Box can be easily removed and left on the dock for those times when you do have a passenger who will balance things out in your launch.
(And since it clearly belongs to your school thanks to the paint job, it will still be there when the outing is over.)
Do you have an upgrade that gets a job done better at your place? 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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