The last of indoor ergometer races took place in Boston on February 20th. So naturally it is time to start checking out your single or the club single for the first trip on the water. Getting your equipment up to snuff will provide additional impetus for preparing the body as well for water rowing. Here is my checklist for boat inspection:
Starting with the part of the hull that is always in the water I move from bow to stern. Check the fit of the bow ball and the integrity of rubber, as well as the fit and tightness of the screw attaching the ball to the hull. Moving along the hull I check for and mark any cracks, creases or depression in the hull material which might need filling. Coming to the fin I check the bow edge to be sure it is smooth and true, that it is firmly attached to the hull and there are no creases where the hull was fractured. This type of damage is often due to the fin being hit by debris in the water or hitting the dock as the boat is placed into or removed from the water. Finally, I am at the stern inspecting for any leak points and the stern travel flag holder clip for snugness.
Shoes and Foot stretcher
Rolling the boat over, I secure it firmly in the slings and begin the next phase of inspection by removing the foot stretcher, inspecting the shoes and tightening the nuts on the stretchers underside. Then I check the connection between the footplate and the cross piece. Finally I check the port, starboard and center hull foot stretcher track. While I have the foot stretcher out I clean the well. When everything’s ship shape, I can replace the foot stretcher.
I remove the seat by pulling it over the front stops, check the axle-wheel connection, lubricate the bearings in the wheels, clean the wheels and check the screw tightness connecting the seat top to the chassis. Now’s a great time to clean the seat’s top and bottom too.
Move on to the seat tracks. Double check their location, making sure the tracks are at the proper location and set identically. Reach under the seat deck and check the track thumb screws’ tightness. Before replacing the seat, don’t forget to clean the tracks so your fresh, clean seat glides free.
If the riggers are not attached, I do so now and then check the spread, pitch and height. When satisfied with my rig, I tighten the top and bottom nuts, backstay nuts and all connecting hardware. It is important at this point to write down these numbers in your rigging log. Don’t have a rigging log? Start one now and keep tabs of all your measurements and any adjustments. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple notebook will suffice, but it is a invaluable repository of information.
I would also check the oarlocks noticing if the shelf of the oarlocks has a triangular ridge or two obvious indentations from several seasons of sculling without replacement. Replacing the oarlock is the easiest, cheapest way to improve rowing technique.
At this point I run a damp rag over the boat, dry it and apply a little wax to give the hull back the luster it lost over the winter. On to the oars!
Sculls or oars
Depending on your brand of scull there are a few adjustment screws whose tightness should be checked while you are measuring the overall length (tip of blade along the center of the shaft to the end of the grip) and the inboard (from the blade side of the collar to the end of the handle). These important numbers should be another entry in your log along with the date of the measurement. Inspect the grips, the surfaces of the collars and sleeves for parts that are worn to the point of needing replacement or otherwise broken. Don’t forget to check the shafts for any contact creases which might have occurred catching a crab, hitting a buoy, dock or bridge or clipping another shell. Finally, give the blades an inspection for broken edges or tips which need replacing or gluing.
By starting the equipment tune-up process now you can contact the manufacturers for replacement parts and still have the time to install them before the water beckons you for that first outing of the spring season.
For the next workout, we move on to readying the body and mind.