We're all in the same boat so let's pull together!

Sculling

Eye Opening Conversation on rowingillustrated.com

As I mentioned in my post Interest in The New Boat Today on December 17, a conversation on the Boat Board at Rowing Illustrated began when somebody post a link to The New Boat for the “tech geeks/guys” to discuss.

I posted there this morning that I agree with the points made by a couple of the contributors in the discussion about how the governing entities of the sport of rowing (specifically FISA and US Rowing) are right to place more emphasis on the athleticism of the rowers than on how high-tech the boat is. To that end, they have incorporated restrictions on radical innovations in their Rules of Racing. The purity of the sport and the competition can only be preserved by limiting how drastic the boats can be changed by the people who have the money and the time to play the game of technology becoming the competition over strength and skill.

This conversation has helped open my eyes to a lot. I only came up with a new design because I couldn’t get any elite flat water boat makers interested in sponsoring me to break the world long-distance rowing record. So since I can’t afford $12,000 for an awesome boat right now, visions of how to make a really cool fast boat started pouring into my head. That’s how things work for me. I am an inventor — and as with so much of what I have invented: if there had been something that already existed that met my need, I would have bought it instead of making it. That is … back when I still had money.

I couldn’t have a permanent rack on my car and still get it into my garage, so I made one that I could put on my vehicle (any car with a standard rack and soon a version for cars without) in five minutes and load my boat by myself. With my new roof rack, I became autonomous after 15 years of always needing help loading and unloading my boats! I have used it for over two years and it has been awesome. Many people have requested that I make one for them, and I will. I will post more in depth information and pictures about the roof rack soon, as it would be helpful to many rowers and kayakers for it to become available on the market.

My “radical new boat design” came from the same place. I often do things just because I don’t know I can’t. That’s a useful quality I have.

The only world long distance sculling record I know of to break was made in 1901 by three guys in a treble: 104 miles from Oxford to Putney, England in just under 14 hours. I know I can break the distance, but to break the time, I’d need an especially fast boat. Believe me, I am not trying to compensate for lack of athleticism. I am strong and I have ENDURANCE. But although I love my Flyweight named Hummingbird and bought it because up until recently, I did most of my rowing on open water, there is only so fast I can make it go.

So when I can make the prototype of my new boat … and there are so many cool features about it I haven’t gone into and you can’t see from the picture — I will make it just for the fun of finding out if it really is a good design. Keep in mind, the drawing I posted was literally just a preliminary doodle from about an hour of thought. However, based on all of the good points that have been made on the Rowing Illustrated Boat Board and the introduction of FISA and US Rowing rules and regulations that I hadn’t considered — along with their likely interpretations for boats to be eligible to race in sanctioned regattas, I will try to modify my design to keep it acceptably within the guidelines in hopes that it will be legal to race — and for that reason, be marketable and useful to other rowers.

But long skinny expensive white elephants can be fun too.


Eye Opening Conversation on rowingillustrated.com

As I mentioned in my post Interest in The New Boat Today on December 17, a conversation on the Boat Board at Rowing Illustrated began when somebody post a link to The New Boat for the “tech geeks/guys” to discuss.

I posted there this morning that I agree with the points made by a couple of the contributors in the discussion about how the governing entities of the sport of rowing (specifically FISA and US Rowing) are right to place more emphasis on the athleticism of the rowers than on how high-tech the boat is. To that end, they have incorporated restrictions on radical innovations in their Rules of Racing. The purity of the sport and the competition can only be preserved by limiting how drastic the boats can be changed by the people who have the money and the time to play the game of technology becoming the competition over strength and skill.

This conversation has helped open my eyes to a lot. I only came up with a new design because I couldn’t get any elite flat water boat makers interested in sponsoring me to break the world long-distance rowing record. So since I can’t afford $12,000 for an awesome boat right now, visions of how to make a really cool fast boat started pouring into my head. That’s how things work for me. I am an inventor — and as with so much of what I have invented: if there had been something that already existed that met my need, I would have bought it instead of making it. That is … back when I still had money.

I couldn’t have a permanent rack on my car and still get it into my garage, so I made one that I could put on my vehicle (any car with a standard rack and soon a version for cars without) in five minutes and load my boat by myself. With my new roof rack, I became autonomous after 15 years of always needing help loading and unloading my boats! I have used it for over two years and it has been awesome. Many people have requested that I make one for them, and I will. I will post more in depth information and pictures about the roof rack soon, as it would be helpful to many rowers and kayakers for it to become available on the market.

My “radical new boat design” came from the same place. I often do things just because I don’t know I can’t. That’s a useful quality I have.

The only world long distance sculling record I know of to break was made in 1901 by three guys in a treble: 104 miles from Oxford to Putney, England in just under 14 hours. I know I can break the distance, but to break the time, I’d need an especially fast boat. Believe me, I am not trying to compensate for lack of athleticism. I am strong and I have ENDURANCE. But although I love my Flyweight named Hummingbird and bought it because up until recently, I did most of my rowing on open water, there is only so fast I can make it go.

So when I can make the prototype of my new boat … and there are so many cool features about it I haven’t gone into and you can’t see from the picture — I will make it just for the fun of finding out if it really is a good design. Keep in mind, the drawing I posted was literally just a preliminary doodle from about an hour of thought. However, based on all of the good points that have been made on the Rowing Illustrated Boat Board and the introduction of FISA and US Rowing rules and regulations that I hadn’t considered — along with their likely interpretations for boats to be eligible to race in sanctioned regattas, I will try to modify my design to keep it acceptably within the guidelines in hopes that it will be legal to race — and for that reason, be marketable and useful to other rowers.

But long skinny expensive white elephants can be fun too.


Damn The Cold!

Well, now I’m totally in the mood to drop everything and get started on my boat prototype. When I get into “inventor mode” I can barely restrain myself. I usually don’t.

Damn the cold! I am fighting my hibernation instinct like I do every year … having to make myself get out and do my sports here in the cold even though I’d rather be living somewhere tropical where it’s not a struggle for me. Gotta love those rosy cheeks though!

But working in an unheated garage in the cold is another matter, especially with chemicals that require a minimum temperature. Last year I used the most insulated room in my house (a room in the basement) to work on my prototype molds with the heat turned up wearing a rebreather mask breathing pure oxygen — just to be able to work with the casting resin, epoxies, high heat bondo, pourable foams and so forth, without making myself sick with the fumes — as well as keeping the fumes from wafting up into the rest of the house.

But the garage is the only place I have where I can construct a completely flat and level 25 foot long table. And right now, it’s too damned cold.

There is no structure for keeping boats at the lake where our rowing club has moved. It doesn’t matter as I can’t row at that lake anyway because it is too small for me to get my mileage without doing scores of mind-numbing laps. I have relocated my boats. One is in the garage for safe-keeping because I just completely refurbished it and have it up for sale. Therefore the Flyweight (named Hummingbird) has been living on top of my car in the safety of a high arched porte cohere … always at the ready to dash out to the wild remote lake where I do row now if a day should happen along with favorable conditions — but I look a bit odd driving around with a boat on my car since it’s TOO COLD TO ROW. It’s ok. I don’t drive much since I work from home.


Interest in The New Boat Today

Wow.

This is a brand new blog that is barely launched. I have been busy just getting content on the site before really putting it out there. But someone discovered The New Boat design and posted a link to it from the boat board at www.rowingillustrated.com. My stats have skyrocketed so I guess this blog is launched now.

Yes, the design is radical … but the radical part is not so much in what you can see in these initial drawings, but in just how far out of the conventional boat-building box my thinking is in how to construct it — for features and performance you cannot see from the drawings. It takes some explaining.

The shape, of course, is designed to eliminate more than two thirds wetted surface when the boat is at speed. The inner eight feet is essentially the boat, and the fore and aft sections are for length and stability (minimizing “hobby-horsing). The exact placement of the hydrofoils remains to be seen.

Remember … these drawings are just the cocktail napkin doodle of an idea I have not had the time or resources to develop further. I would love a navel architect to show up and lend a hand. I am also in the midst of determining if I need to bite the bullet and get myself to another part of the country to be in a position to have the resources nearby to accomplish my goals more effectively. As it is now, the only advantage to being in my present location is I have a magnificent workshop and space to prototype this boat the old-fashioned way. I am not adverse to speeding up the process with sophisticated computer software and partners with boat-building experience.

The really interesting thing about this boat that you cannot see from the drawing is what I am not telling you yet. But it will perform differently from the conventional racers and even require a slightly different technique than the classic form for rowing.

Personally, I am chomping at the bit to work on it, but my time is being ill-spent with matters that are tangential to my passions and necessary to survival. Son-of-a-bitch … that’s the real world we live in now.

It’s a shame too, because I am unstoppable when I  am able to apply my time and brain to the things that make my heart sing. And I am unstoppable when it’s not too cold to row and there’s plenty of sunlight. I haven’t rowed the past couple of weeks, but hope to make it out this Sunday or Monday for at least 25 miles.


Too Cold To Row

Sad to say, it has become too cold to row. It is winter, after all. If I were still rowing at the club, it might be safe enough because there are people who would notice if I didn’t come back. But the water levels have dropped so far at that little lake that it is treacherous to row there and my boat has a 6 foot scratch to prove it. I have lost my skeg 3 times there … but did discover how much more I prefer to row without one and have stopped replacing it in favor of the maneuverability.

I have the cold weather gear, but truth be known, I have done only a small percentage of rowing over the years wearing more than a bikini. Even starting out in the low 40’s at the Marathon Rowing Championships every year but this year (water levels TOO LOW!), I have never worn sleeves. But now I have to contemplate the Boston way of getting out anyway and just breaking the ice if need be!

I’ll row in the cold, but prefer it be sunny. I’ll row in wind and chop, but prefer the water be warm enough to survive going over. I have never capsized in a single in all my years of rowing. But that has merely been my grace period and I’d rather that period end in South Florida. A remote uninhabited lake in the middle South in the winter is not the place to tempt fate. Nevertheless, I have just the right neoprene britches and booties and shirt with sleeves to wear when the day comes that there is sun, over 40 degrees and less than 10 mph wind. I figure that is a good standard to set for acceptable conditions.

I really should do the snow bird thing and just hoof it down to Sarasota to where the city CARES about rowing. ANOTHER 20 million they are putting into their rowing program there!!!! The city where I live doesn’t even know rowing exists. And it wouldn’t hurt to live in the part of the world where there are people who care about the planet and hastening our shift to renewable energy. Yes. I need to move. Maybe San Francisco? I am open to suggestions.