General Rigging Concepts

You want to adjust the rig of your boat so that:

  • The height of your hands is comfortable.

    If your hands feel too high, lower the height of your oarlocks. In most boats, this can be done by removing the nut at the top of the pin, and transferring washers from below the oarlock to above the oarlock. Then be sure to replace the nut at the top of the pin. Alternatively, if you are not able to adjust the boat, you can raise yourself higher by using a seat pad of the desired thickness on top of the seat in your boat.

    If your hands feel too low, raise the height of your oarlocks by reversing the directions given above.

  • (Sculling) You can row with your left hand over your right had without colliding at the middle of the stroke.

    There is differential in the height of your oarlocks so you can row with your left hand over your right hand, as is customary throughout the rowing community. If your hands tend to collide at the middle of the stroke, or if your boat is constantly down to the port side, you may need to increase the height differential between your right and left hands. This differential commonly ranges from 1.5 cm to 0.5 cm.

  • (Sculling) You have a comfortable amount of handle overlap through the middle of the stroke.

    If it feels like you have too much overlap, decrease the inboard dimension or increase the spread. Remember that decreasing the inboard will also increase your load. Increasing the spread will slightly decrease the arc that your oars sweep through the water.

  • You have an inch or two of clearance between your hands and your body at the finish of the stroke.

    If you do not have this clearance, try moving your foot stretchers further toward the bow of the boat. You can also decrease the inboard, but be aware that this will increase the load you feel on the oars.

    If you have too much clearance at the finish, move your feet closer to the stern of the boat.

  • Your oars come through the water at a comfortable speed given the force that you are able to apply.

    If it feels uncomfortably heavy and slow pulling your oars through the water, shorten the length of your oar by adjusting at the grip, then move the collar toward the blade to maintain the inboard dimension. Other rigging adjustments that can be made to lighten the load are to increase the inboard dimension by moving the collar toward the blade. You may need to increase the spread in order to accommodate the change in inboard.

    If you feel you would like more load, lengthen the oar by adjusting at the grip, then move the collar toward the handle to maintain the inboard dimension. You can also increase the load by moving the collar toward the handle, decreasing the inboard dimension.

  • The oars maintain a consistent and appropriate depth throughout the stroke and release the water well at the finish.

    If your oar washes out or seems to ride too far out of the water, you may need to lower the height of your oarlocks, or you may try subtracting a degree of pitch.

    Note: If the oar blades seem to dive too deep during the stroke: First, check to be sure that you are not pulling up on the oar. Pull evenly and horizontally. If it is not comfortable to pull at that level, adjust the height of your oarlocks to make it comfortable. If the oar continues to dig too deep, you may need to add a degree of pitch to your oarlocks.

  • Your seat does not hit either end of the track during the stroke.

    If your seat hits the stern end of the track at the catch of the stroke, check to be sure that your shins are not moving past vertical and that you are not rushing too fast to the catch. If you still hit the end, you should move your foot stretchers closer to the bow of the boat.

    If your seat hits the bow end of the track at the finish of the stroke, you will need to move your feet further toward the stern of the boat.

Common Ranges for Rigging Settings

  Scull Sweep
Inboard Length 85–90 cm 113–117 cm
Spread 156–162 cm 83–86 cm
Oarlock Height depends on boat height
Pitch 2–7 degrees
Overlap 12–20 cm n/a