11 Timeless Rigging Techniques

01-08-13 - stengo in slings.jpg

As long as people have been rowing there has been rigging.

From those ancient Roman galleys to today’s technological wonders, a boat being rowed  needed someone to rig it.

Over time certain rigging techniques have proven themselves invaluable. These techniques make the job of rigging easier and more effective.

While the following list may seem very basic, these 11 strategies are used today because they really work.

Learn The Correct Way

As with most things in life there are correct methods and wrong methods to rig rowing equipment. To save time, effort, busted knuckles, and heartache—learn the correct ways.

Simple enough.

Of course, once you’ve learned the correct methods feel free to experiment and try shortcuts, but until you’ve got the correct ways down-pat you should . . .

Practice. Practice. Practice

If you want to become better at rigging you need to practice. You need to practice a lot!

Buying a workbook and reading it will NOT help you rig better. Getting a workbook, reading it, and then practicing what you’ve learned—will. And then . . .

  1. Practice more.
  2. Practice even more.
  3. Practice even more than that.
  4. Even when you don’t feel like it, practice.

Like learning a foreign language, or learning really anything—repetition is critical. Just make sure you’ve learned the correct methods first before you go too far down the repetition path.

Keep Things Clean

Keep your equipment clean. Why?

First and foremost you’ll feel better when you row in a tidy boat. Second, the better your equipment looks the better you will take care of it. Third, a good cleaning will greatly reduce the wear and tear on the moving parts, protect your hull, and save your money.

Finally, clean stuff is faster stuff.


One of the most powerful words in the rowing world is testing.

Way too often rowers and coaches give in to the temptation to just copy what someone else is doing. They use the same rigging numbers, buy the same equipment, row the same way.

Why? You and your team are unique.

Using what someone else is doing is acceptable as long as you have tested it and found it to work for you. Blindly copying what another is doing will put you at a disadvantage in more ways than you might guess.

Use The Correct Tools

You can do about 90% of all rigging chores with these six tools:

  1. wrenches
  2. screwdrivers
  3. height stick
  4. pitch meter
  5. tape measure
  6. cleaning supplies

Tackling a rigging job using the correct tool just makes sense. It saves time and cuts down on injuries—to you and to the equipment.

Don’t use pliers to loosen a stuck fastener. Don’t use a hammer to adjust a track. And vise grips make lousy screwdrivers.

Use The Right Tight

The majority of a rowing shell is held together by epoxy. Yet, there are numerous fastenersthroughout a boat that are meant to be loosened and tightened.

Despite our best attempts, sometimes, we coaches and rowers don’t get the tight quite right. And that is never a good thing.

Find out how tight a fastener should be, and then do the best you can to get it correct.

Put The Tools Away When You’re Done

You’ve just finished rigging an entire eight, now what do you do? You put the tools away—where they belong.

Too much hopeful thinking goes on by coaches and rowers when a job is done. Jeez, I hope these tools are around when I need them next. Jeez, I hope I don’t loose that wrench, it fit perfectly.

Taking a few minutes to clean up and stow things where they belong, and where you can find them, could save you hours later, and trim seconds off of your race times. The motto A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place is a good one to repeat after your job is done.

Make Changes Slowly

Today the word slow exists in few people’s vocabulary. Everyone and everything is moving wicked fast. Yet there are times in rigging and rowing when you need to go slow.

Rowers become accustomed to how their equipment is set, and significant changes, especially in the leverage, can be tough on a rower. Giving an athlete a chance to grow into a change is often very prudent.

Treat Your Equipment With Respect

This is a technique that works well in every single aspect of our life. Find the equipment that you need. Next, treat it with respect. Then, it will be there when you need it.

That may sound all touchy-feely but it is a time-tested technique.

You and your equipment are on the same team and understanding that is a critical step in eliminating many issues.

Write Stuff Down

Our brains are great at processing information, but not so great at storing stuff.

Give your brain a break and find a safe place to store important information about your equipment, such as

  • rigging numbers
  • serial numbers
  • speeds

Write them down, and file them. Or be wishing that you did. Your choice.

Try and Fail

Don’t be afraid to rig wrong, and admit it when you do.

Don’t be afraid to fail, and learn from it when you do.

Don’t be afraid. Period!

This is not meant to be a complete list. What other rigging techniques are working for you?