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Worth It

BY CHIP DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

As I re-rig my single scull with a smart oarlock and SpeedCoach in order to race virtually in regattas like the Head of the Hooch—I’ve always wanted to race in it, and now I don’t have to travel to do it—I’m fully aware of how hard we’re all looking for silver linings in this ongoing pandemic. And unlike my bicycles, hockey equipment, and climbing gear, my rowing shell has lasted decades. I’ve replaced only the oarlocks and foot stretchers. And you should, too—I bet your old shoes are disgusting.

If you can find one, now is the best time to buy a single scull or erg. It’s not just because single sculling is the perfect pandemic exercise (it’s just about impossible to get within six feet of a sculler on the water). It’s not just because sculling makes you a better all-around athlete (and not just a sweep rower). It’s because you’ll love it. To row a single is to experience our sport in its purest form. If the set is off, you know who needs to fix hand heights or releases. If it’s feeling sluggish, you know who needs to pick it up. And when it’s going well and feeling magical, you know who earned that great feeling.

The erg is the pure fitness version of the single. You’re not counting on anyone else to show up on time. You don’t need to check the weather. You get on it and you’re working out. And when your splits go down without your effort going up, you have yourself to thank and reward.

You also can’t go wrong financially with a single or an erg. My Van Dusen Advantage single might fetch its 1997 list price today. And the erg I bought in 1994 would go for a large portion of its new price if I put it up for sale, more than 25 years later. Rowing equipment, including apparel, is built to last. I still row in my college trou.

On a good day, we spend more time in our shells or on our ergs than in our cars. The rowing equipment, at least, is worth it.

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