When was the last time you ran a routine check on some of the lesser components of your rowing equipment? Chances are, too long ago. It is easy to overlook the small things when attention focuses towards the larger issues in the club, such as repairing broken shells or purchasing new boats.
That is all fair enough, but it is important not to neglect the smaller issues. Left unnoticed, they can become substantial problems for your club – most likely when you least expect them to as well.
Proper maintenance of your equipment
To help start you on the right track, we have identified a number of small checks to include in your pre season evaluation, that will certainly save you time (and money) in the long run!
Check the tracks / slides on your boats
Jumping in a boat, shoving off the dock, starting to row, and then hearing the seat’s wheels grind over dirty tracks can wear on your nerves. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Worse, it can wear your wheels down to nubs and make each stroke painfully distracting.
Let’s avoid that, shall we?
Place your boat seats up. Now wipe each track with a rag that has a slight solvent on it. My favourite solvent is mineral spirits. It cuts through grease quickly and is one of the lesser toxic ones (make sure to follow directions and take care to keep it off of your skin). This Action will loosen up any dried grease from last Fall and can breath some new life into older tracks.
Now give each track and seat assemblies a good thorough washing and scrubbing. Make sure you use a good mixture of soap, water, and a splash of bleach, then scrub the tracks, like with effort . . . especially the front stops. The front stops can be a high-bacteria area due to the contact with the legs. Skin cells, sweat, and blood can combine to form a nice home for bacteria to grow in. Scrub it well. Scrub, scrub, scrub!
Check your trailer
If you have nothing but home regattas on your schedule then skip these Actions.
If you are going to transport your equipment to away events this Spring then here are some critical Actions for you to take.
Check all the lights on the trailer and tow vehicle. Each and every one of them. Even the little ones that illuminate the license plate. I got a $25 ticket once because one of the two lights that illuminate my license plate had burned out. You could still see the license plate at night but it was not BRIGHT enough. (That police officer was in a bad mood that evening. Sheeshh).
Brakes and bearings need checking. I take my trailer to the shop every other year to get the bearing redone and the brakes checked. These two things are normal maintenance checks. Just like going to the dentist for a six-month cleaning a visit to a shop is critical. More than one trailer driver has been passed by one of his own trailer’s wheels that broke free because a bearing went bad. And functioning brakes on a trailer can mean the difference between a sudden stop and a collision.
Inspect the condition of your Oars
One of the greatest hoaxes in rowing is that oars don’t need love. They do. They DO need love. And you are the one to give it to them.
Take a set of oars out of the rack and put them on two saw horses. Now let’s start the inspection. (If you need specific information about oars you can find Concept 2’s manual here and info about Croker oars here).
Go through each handle, regardless of wood or synthetic. You are looking of dings, rips, and areas that will be unkind to a hand. Use your marker to circle any area that needs love.
Now move on to the collar. These are tricky areas in that they get the most wear and tear of
any part in rowing, second only to the wheels on the seats—and hardly ever get looked at. Areas that are worn or cracked need to be replaced. Don’t worry about the placement of the collar right now, you can adjust those easily later.
Now to the spoons/blades. Hands on each and everyone. Cracks, especially in the tips need
to be repaired, especially now while the oars are dry. If you have tips on the end of the oars are they
Oars that pass inspection go back into the rack. Those that need attention go into the repair
pile with a nice little note and get immediate attention.
A little time taken in the months leading up to the season can save you a lot of work and hassle later on!
For more tips, rowing club maintenance eBook: “43 Simple Actions You Need to Take Before the Racing Season Starts” by Mike Davenport can be purchased from the Rowperfect shop.
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