How to DIY Rowing Shell Navigation Lights

During our discussions with customers and colleagues, we frequently hear the question “Why don’t you make… insert product here?”  Truth be told, there are a lot more products that we could make.  Our goal is to provide our customers with the best value for their money, whether that means the lowest price or the best bang for your buck.   Part of the reason we do not make some products is that many items can be made for free or for very little money.  We intend to add value to our product line by giving you, the customer, ideas for cheap or free products that will save you money for larger, more expensive purchases down the road.  Without further adieu, on to our first set of free DIY Rowing Equipment instructions…

Our first DIY product is a set of navigation lights that can be mounted to rowing shells, coaching launches, or other small watercraft.  There are a few problems with the navigation lights currently on the market, including being not bright enough, having lights that are focused in only one direction, and being too heavy.  In addition, they are all too expensive!

Here are the instructions to DIY your own navigation lights for less than $40 a piece.

Attwood Marine© sells a set of powerful and lightweight LED bow lights.  You can pick up a set from Wal-Mart© for only $29.99. With a few simple modifications, you can outfit these lights for use on the bow clip of a rowing shell.

All you will need from the kit is the green/red light, the mounting clip it uses to attach to the provided clamp, the two shorter mounting screws, the white light and the pole that is used for the white light.  The only other materials needed in addition to this kit include: (2) 6” pieces of 1” X 1” X 1/16” aluminum angle, (1) M8 X 60 mm bolt and a tube of thread locker.

Using the mounting clip from the green/red light as a template, drill two 3/16” holes into the center of one side of a 6” length of your aluminum angle.  In the other 6” length of aluminum, drill one 5/16” hole into the center of one side.  The length of aluminum with two holes is for the red/green light and the length with one hole is for the white light.

Using the two small mounting screws provided with the light kit, attach your green/red light to the aluminum angle with two holes.  Using your M8 bolt, attach the white light to the aluminum angle with one hole.  For the white light, I would recommend using a thread locker to hold the bolt tight.  A lanyard can be added to each light to prevent them from getting lost overboard.

Take your newly made lights and mount them on your boat.  The red/green lights go into the bow clip of course, but you will need to mount a second clip to your stern for the white light.  I would suggest through bolting the clip to your stern and using fender washers on the underside of the deck to keep the clip from breaking off.


For further assembly questions or to request other DIY Rowing Equipment instructions, feel free to contact us.

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Coaches Save Rowers, Not Coaching Launches

With the addition of our new wakeless launch, the “Placid,” we ran into a lot of folks asking us, “Does your launch have the ability to rescue an 8+?”  We were honestly confounded by the question considering the fact that most of the coaches we know do not use a launch that is currently capable of rescuing 8 athletes and a coxswain.  We wondered whether coaches realized this themselves.

Let’s take a quick look at boats that are actually rated to hold 10 people (coach, 8 rowers and coxswain) according to their USCG (United States Coast Guard) capacity placard and/or their manufacturer rating.

  1. Boston Whaler 220 Outrage
  2. Carolina Skiff 19 Ultra
  3. Harrison Flotebote Cruiser 200 Pontoon

Most coaches would take a look at any one of these launches and say that they are too big for coaching (and for parking at the dock).  The reality is that these launches are the smallest motorized craft that have been USCG certified to carry the passengers posted on their capacity placard and required for safe rescue of an 8+.

So why do we believe that our wakeless launches, which are significantly smaller than the above mentioned craft are capable of rescuing an 8+?  Somewhere along the way, wakeless launch manufacturers sold coaches on a false sense of security.  How did they do this?  Other than requiring a Hull Identification Number, the USCG does not regulate load capacity or powering of multi-hull boats.  Instead, the American Boat and Yacht Council has developed standards for load capacity and powering of pontoons/multi-hulls boats as mere safety guidelines.  Manufacturers are unfortunately not required by law to calculate and report these capacities, which is why wakeless launch manufacturers can tell you their boat “has 8+ rescue capacity.”

Of course you can pile 8 big guys in a jon boat or on many different brands of wakeless launches, including ours.  The question is not if any boat can physically hold 8 rowers, a cox and a coach.  The question is whether or not that boat is safe to drive loaded down with passengers AND if such boat can drive in adverse weather conditions that caused a rescue situation in the first place.  It’s important to remember that the cause of a flipped shell will almost always put the coaching launch in the same danger.

The greatest weapon a coach has in guarding lives on the water is proper planning and good common sense.  Before you go on the water, check the weather conditions and then constantly reassess once you are on the water.  Make sure you have all of the safety gear you need before you leave the dock.  Never stray too far from shore or other coaches.  Carry a cell phone in a water proof case or a means of hailing rescue.  The most important point, that is almost always ignored by coaches, is to wear a life jacket and use an engine kill switch attached to your person.  Without a coach, it doesn’t matter if you have a coaching launch with 8+ rescue capacity.

Revolution Rowing is committed to your safety on the water.  Stay tuned to our blog.  We will follow up with another article that calculates the actual load capacities for our launch as well as our competitors.  For more information on the methods the American Boat and Yacht Council uses to calculate load capacities of multi-hull boats, please visit the following link:

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Row Revo Technical Tip: Strapping Down a Boat

There are a lot of opinions out there on how to tie down a boat.  While I will admit that many of these ways may be perfectly fine, I have been using the same method my entire rowing career to the tune of 200,000+ trailer and cartopping miles with 100% success in never losing a boat.  Below is the step by step process on the method I use.  Accompanying video will be added soon to make the process more clear!  Many thanks go to Coach Brad Holdren for teaching me this method a long time ago.  (*Please note that Revolution Rowing is not accountable for any damage caused by improper trailering or cartopping techniques.  These instructions are intended to help educate those new to the process, but you should always adapt these instructions to your particular situation.)  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Revolution Rowing for more details.

Strapping Down a Boat


Step 1: Loop your boat strap around both sides of the trailer/rack arm so that the strap is doubled over the hull of the boat.  Make sure that the strap rests flat on the underside of the trailer/rack arm and the hull of the boat with no twists.  A good check for this is to make sure the writing is facing towards you (not the boat) on both sides.


Step 2: Pull the strap tight so that the buckle rests on the bottom of the trailer/rack arm.  To get to this point, start with the buckle on the bottom corner of the trailer/rack arm that is closest to the clasp of the buckle (as opposed to the strap side) with the strap somewhat snug.  Tighten the strap by pulling the buckle around the bottom corner of the trailer/rack arm and on to the bottom of the trailer/rack arm.


The buckle should be snug against the bottom of the trailer/rack arm.  The buckle is placed at the bottom of the trailer rung so that it does not make contact with the delicate painted surface of the boat.  The boat should be tight enough at this point, that you can grab it and not be able to shake it free.



Step 3: Take the loose end of the strap in your hand, leading away from the buckle.  Pass the loose end of the strap around the back side of the tightened strap that is looped around the hull of the boat.  It is best to start from whichever side is on the clasp side of the buckle so that after you feed the strap end between both tightened and the boat it will be pointing away from the clasp.


Step 4: Repeat step number three so that you make a loop with the loose end of the strap.




Step 5: Take the end of the strap and pass it down through the newly created loop.  It is best if you angle the loose end to the outside of the trailer/rack arm of the clasp edge of the buckle.




Step 6: Making sure that you have the entire excess strap pulled away from the buckle, pull the loose end of the strap through the loop and pull tight.  The two sides of the strap against the hull will cinch together.



Step 7: Take the remaining loose strap and wrap it around the trailer/rack arm in front of the buckle on the trailer/rack arm, or beneath the boat.  It is very important that you do not wrap the excess around the buckle, as under extreme conditions it could loosen the buckle.  Use electrical tape to secure the loose end of the strap.


Untie StrapsHow-to-unstrap-a-boat To undo the strap, don’t waste time fighting the knot that you just created by picking at it with your fingers.  Take the loose end of the strap; pass it behind the back of the knot by going opposite the direction that you used to create the loop in Step 4.  Give the loose end of the strap a good tug and the knot should pop right open!

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What makes Revolution Rowing “Revolutionary”?

I would like to welcome all of our new friends and customers to Revolution Rowing.  We are excited to launch our website and roll out our first round of products to the rowing community.  In our first edition of this blog, I want to give you an idea of what is so “revolutionary” about Revolution Rowing, and what sets us apart from the rest of the pack.

There are a lot of rowing companies on the market, most of whom make a lot of fantastic products.  I am a self-diagnosed rowing addict that has owned the vast majority of these products.  I have tested, altered and abused my fair share of rowing equipment.  I look forward to the Head of the Charles vendor expo every year when the latest and greatest innovations roll out to the market.  However, it is my honest opinion that rowing technology seems to be standing still, while sports with larger worldwide participation, keep making significant advances.  The basic look and feel of rowing equipment has changed very little in the past century.  Subtle changes have occurred when it comes to building materials, rigging and hull design, but it does not change the fact that rowing shells always have and probably always will be long, skinny boats with oars.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that bow mounted riggers, dynamic ergs and iPhone speed coach apps are awesome, but rowing has not had the same advances as sports such as cycling, swimming or running to name a few.  Why is rowing behind the curve?  The simple answer is participation.  Rowing does not yet have the same size or following that other sports have.  Anyone who has rowed knows that the expense of rowing is the greatest roadblock to participation.  It is not easy to put up the cash for water access, building a boathouse and purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of boats and other necessary equipment.  As an individual, purchasing a boat and oars is not cheap either.  When there is not a rowing club nearby, purchasing a boat might be your only way to get into the sport.  Most people are not crazy about spending a few thousand of dollars for a clunker of a boat for a sport that they are not sure whether or not they will enjoy.

Here at Revolution Rowing, we think that the “Revolutionary” part of our products has less to do with technological innovation and more to do with our commitment to keeping costs down for the consumer.  We admit that a lot of our products are not original ideas, but are good ideas made better.  Our mission is to provide rowers with quality, American made products that will not break the bank.  If we saved cash strapped teams a few dollars or we made it easier for a new rower to enter the sport, we feel that we have accomplished our mission.  We look forward to serving the rowing community and expanding the sport of rowing to anyone interested in learning.

So without further adieu, get ready to Row Revo!

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