“How can I make the boat go faster” is a question that all competitive rowers ask themselves, from the rowers looking to win Olympic gold, to the rowers looking to win that first novice pot at their local regatta, and it good to see that there are companies that are beginning to provide options or solutions for people to try and understand how their stroke moves the boat and how the can improve to make the boat go even faster.
At a basic level you already have devices like the Nielsen Kellerman speedcoach which allows rowers to measure how fast the boat is going through the water, but there are also other products coming onto the market which all you to also measure the forces that you put through the water to give a better picture of what you are doing in the water and how you can improve, and several of the products are moving towards a price where rowers outside of a national team could afford to invest in a system, after all we compete in a sport where a boat can cost upwards for £8k and blades around £700, so around £1k for a telemetry system, especially when it can help improve your speed so much, should defenalty be considered.
I wanted to compare the main systems on the market, so i created the table below to try and outline the systems available and what features/costs were involved in each
EDIT: UPDATED 28th OCTOBER WITH NEW DETAILS OF NK AND WEBA POWER METERS
As you can see, there is a range of options out there, each with benefits and drawbacks which I have tried to outline so that you can consider which is best for you, my own person opinion is:
The most complete solution
Biorow – Looks to be the most complete solution, so if money is no issue and you are looking for the very best, then that would be the one I would go for, its also possible to hire the equipment, details of which are here
The best solution for a club squad testing
Difficult one this, personally I would look at the SmartOar/Weba or Intelligate. Smartoar/Weba as it is truly modular, since you only need two to begin with when testing athletes, and easy to pass the blade around between rowers mid outing, or the Intelligate as it offers not only power curves but also stroke length and blade heights which can also have a big impact on boat speed and so would be good to track.
What are your thoughts on whats on offer? Have I missed any? Please feel free to leave any comments below!