How do you decide what to buy when you are in the buying rowing equipment mode?
Well, all rowing equipment is not created the same and unfortunately for consumers, rowing equipment is not an area that any of the consumer magazines have turned their attention towards. That means when when deciding what to buy you and I are pretty much on our own.
Let me share two frames of reference that might help.
Insights into buying rowing equipment
Following are the results of a survey I have been doing for many years.
It is a running culmination of opinions taken from attendees in my rigging workshops and rowing clinics.
Below is how the coaches responded to two specific questions. If you are thinking of making a purchase of rowing equipment these responses might give you some insight(s).
As of this writing hundreds of rowing coaches have taken the survey.
Question 1: “What is the main reason you buy a specific rowing shell?”
- 26.1% QUALITY
- 23.8% PRICE
- 16.6% SPEED
- 12.0% OTHER
- 10.7% OWNING SIMILAR EQUIPMENT
- 4.7% STIFFNESS
- 3.5% COMFORT WHILE ROWING
- 1.1% SERVICE
- 1.1% EASE OF RIGGING
Question 2: “What is the main reason you buy a specific set of rowing oars?”
- 39.4% QUALITY
- 15.7% OWNING SIMILAR EQUIPMENT
- 11.8% PRICE
- 11.8% SPEED
- 10.5% COMFORT WHILE ROWING
- 6.5% OTHER
- 2.6% SERVICE
- 1.3% EASE OF RIGGING
Over the years, the numbers haven’t changed much—quality remains the top response in both categories.
However, considering the current health concerns and financial considerations it will be interesting to see if the responses change.
How do you tell quality?
If quality is the top of both lists, then how DO you tell what’s quality and what’s not? Here are a few suggestions.
A) Something old: An excellent way to determine the quality of a piece of rowing equipment is to look at an older version. What you are looking for is how well it has held up to the years of use and abuse.
For example, a boat that has been rowed hard for five years and is still in good working condition is a boat that was made well. This is a sign that the builder makes quality products. The same for oars.
B) Look Around Another way to check on quality is to snoop around. According to rowing pal Dickie Pereli, “Look in areas that the builder would not expect you to look in, like the bow or stern compartment. There you can find signs of quality, or lack of it.”
Look in areas that the builder would not expect you to look in, like the bow or stern compartment. There you can find signs of quality, or lack of it.
And while you are looking around here are a few specific things to check on, for both new and used shells and oars:
- Look at the seams where the material is joined together. They should be finished well (clean and sanded).
- Check the welds on the rigger, they should be solid and not show any signs of cracking.
- The ribs of the boat should be solid and form a solid joint with the gunwale.
- The paint should be first rate in application and quality.
- All fasteners should be non-corrosive (e.g. stainless steel, plastic)
- Seams should be clean and sanded.
- Attachment of blade to shaft should be solid and watertight.
- Attachment of handle to shaft should be solid and watertight.
- Look at the grips and handle surface. It should be of the best materials.
Warranty And one final place to check on quality—the warranty.
What type of warranty does the builder offer? Often a longer warranty period is a sign that the builder has confidence in the equipment, and that it is a quality product.
Buying Rowing Equipment
What rowing coaches say, and turning a spotlight on quality could help you make a better decision.
And for more insights into buying rowing equipment, check out my book: Buy It Right: 8 Steps To Buy The Rowing Equipment You Need At The Price You Can Afford.