As technology has changed, as well as the level of training of our athletes has gotten more sophisticated, the rigging of our shells has become more complicated. Not necessarily the practice of doing so, but of choosing the right rigging numbers for our crews. When I started down the coaching path I became curious about rigging numbers, what they meant, and how they impacted the the athletes. Early on it was trial and error based on standardized information found in old articles or USRowing technical manuals. Then it became trial and error based on my experiences with my athletes, further refined by the wealth of information found in books like Rigging by Purcer. My mind was blown by The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Rigging by Mike Davenport. Mike opened my eyes and made easy the whole picture. Being a great teacher, Mike’s book was and still is easy to read and enjoy doing so (a model for my own Down and Dirty Guide to Coxing).

Reading Mike’s book I became fascinated by his rigging number formula. I made countless charts (which I’ll share here) to help me visualize in concrete terms what each change I made looked like. A number is simple to understand. I adjust one thing, it gives me a number. Adjust something else and it makes things that much heavier/lighter with a clear number. So when I made changes to the rigging and watched my crews row, I could relate it back directly to the numerical difference too. Things began to sort themselves out. Or at least I thought so.

The rapid advancement of new technologies and blade shapes really made for a lot more questions. Mike’s formula, it is suggested, can not be used across different blade shapes. Each blade shape offers a different surface area, and efficiency level requiring changes to overall oar length among others. How we rig continues to change and I hope in time that I will be able to play with Mike’s formula to account for these new blade shapes making it possible compare across them all. It should be simple physics, right? We’ll see. In the mean time, enjoy what’s here and be sure to send your thoughts my way.