Rowing Shell help...

I have a Small Craft 18' x 25" (approx 21/22" waterline beam). It handles everything but need something faster to cover more 'ground' in a 2 hour row for the same energy spent.

I have rowed a Peinert 'Dolphin', 24' X 13" waterline beam. This is considered a trainer and open water capable. This boat is capable as they say but takes a lot of effort/concentration/energy to maintain control in truly rough water white caps for a long period of time, especially when the weather is approaching full beam.

The 20's and 21 foot shells out there are around 19" waterline beam, a step up for speed from my present Small Craft recreational shell.

The CLC Oxford is 20 1/2 and 18/19" waterline beam. Also 1 step up from what I have, although I don't know how it handles, not being able to row one, so I don't know if I should buy or build a boat. I have read that the Oxfords are NOT open water boats, which has me wondering, after rowing a 13" beam boat in open water. Maybe the v-shape is a problem, compared to the round bottom boats? I do not know know. I would be more open to building one if it were a little longer in length and narrower in the beam, if it handled as well as it round bottomed cousins.

I am also looking for 2 steps up anyway......around 22' long and mid teen's in waterline beam. There seem to be none out there?....something inbetween the 21" wide beginner rec shell and the too skinny 13" open water trainer? Looking for a 22 footer with a 16" waterline beam. I know it may not sound like a big difference in specs but for those who know, it does make a big difference in these kinds of boats. Each boat offers a specific purpose to the rower and in specific weather conditions.

Any knowledgeable and experienced input would be appreciated as I try to plan on what I will be rowing in the coming season.

5 replies:

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RE: Rowing Shell help...

Check out aenas originals. They have plans for a strip built 22' 10" x 22". I don't have one (the oxford was more appropriate for my girlfriend), but did get a copy of his oar plans (gotta have wooden oars to go with the wooden boat). Also, check out the kingfisher by graeme king. I thought about that one, but my girlfriend really wanted a rec shell. That boat's considered 90% of a racer and is 22'6"x19. Plans from the wooden boat store. The rowing club has a number of king boats and they are very nice.


RE: Rowing Shell help...

I don't have any help with your boat problem, but I really disagree with the "got to have wood oars with a wood boat". I built a catamaran rower for my wife and we started with wood oars - they were nice, but when we got a set of typical graphite "hachets" the whole experience was much nicer, easier, and also faster. It really took less coordination to keep up a decent stroke (we were total amatures). Actually it was faster in spite of how slow the boat was. Graphite oars are best in my limited experience.


RE: Rowing Shell help...

Navel architect Steve Killing designed “Dragonfly” for Bear Mtn. to dimensions similar to what you are looking for.  It is a strip built shell.  My personal taste would lead me to use a different rigger and modify the cockpit.  Canadian Canoes built a couple for the rowing club to which Mr. Killing was a member.


The fore deck of our OS has completely buried in rough water and never made me feel out of control.  The shell is rigged way too low to play in rough water on a regular basis.  Not to worry at all if a storm blows up.  It is very stable and takes abuse much better than most manufactured shells I’ve seen.


If you are interested in rowing wood, check out the recent book “Rowable Classics” by Darryl Strickler from WoodenBoat Books.  It is a photographic journey through the history of wooden shells, Macon sculling oars, and their builders.   There is a chapter on whiffs, gigs, wherries (including CLC), rum tums, and restricted singles, which may help you find something to drive.

RE: Rowing Shell help...

Try the Maas Aero or Alden Star or maybe Little River Regatta. The Win Tech Explorer is another possibility. I started rowing  a small craft Warning over 20 years ago which is, what I think, you have.  The are stable, pretty heavy, and relatively slow.  I have been searching for the best all around boat for a long time and tried quite a few.  If you want to go out in rough then you will need to give up some speed.  For me there has been no way around it.  I eventually ended up with an old Alden for really rough and an Aero for lighter stuff.  I would now replace the Alden with a Peinert Zephyr or Echo for the rough stuff.  Rough becomes fun rather than exhausting  when the boat is stable and can surf without wanting to constantly broach.  The Aero is light and very responsive even with its 19" waterline beam.  The bottom is an arc and not so stable as the flattish Star but has good secondary stability.  The Regatta and Explorer are about like the Aero and Star on the stability/speed curve best I can tell.  I believe the next step is the Maas 24 or Peinert Dolphin.  There is a lot to boat design and compromises need to be made.  Pick the boat for the water you will row and your skill and the fun vs effort you want.

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