So lately our varsity eight hasn’t been having the best time on the water and we found out yesterday what was causing the majority of their problems: the rib in the boat where 5-seat’s rigger attaches is broken due to being way overtightened over the years. This contributed to a lot of the set problems because … physics. I didn’t get to hear the full explanation because I was trying to do something else but suffice it to say, a broken rib in the boat pulls the rigger lower on that side, changes how force is applied through the water, and makes it very difficult for that rower to get their blade out of the water, amongst other things. Until we can get it fixed, we had to put the 5-seat rigger on port and move the 4-seat rigger to starboard, so we’ve got a weird bucket rig configuration going on in the middle of the boat.
We got this particular shell in 2004 when I was a junior, so it’s only 10 years old and the hope is that it lasts a couple more years before the team’s gotta buy a new shell. They just bought two new Resolutes within the last couple of years but that isn’t something that we (or most other teams) can afford to do on a regular basis, which is why taking care of the equipment is so important.
When you put your riggers on, only tighten the bolts finger tight, meaning no tighter than you can naturally turn them with your fingers. Your coxswain or coach will then go through with the wrench and tighten them more if necessary. There’s a lot more to the rigging of a boat than just tightening a few nuts and bolts (check out these posts for more info: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and if something happens where they end up too tight or too loose, the integrity of the entire shell’s rigging could be compromised, in addition to the height, pitch, spread, etc. of that individual seat.
Below are a couple pictures I snapped yesterday before we went out that show what the rib should look like (top left) compared to what the broken one looks like (top right, bottom left). You can see how it’s buckled from someone getting a little too aggressive with their wrench. The bottom right photo shows a rib that hasn’t broken yet but is getting close because of the same thing.
Take care of your equipment and make sure you spend the time showing and explaining how the riggers should be put on to the new people at your club.