I hope you all are looking forward about the 2014 rowing season, because I know I am! Not because I have made a magic breakthrough in my own rowing that means soon I will break a world record (although that would be nice), but mostly because 2014 looks to be the year that power meters rowing will finally become available for everyone at affordable prices, something I have been hoping would happen for some time.
A while back I had posted about the telemetry options available at the time, and the market hasn’t really changed at all since then with most systems starting at around £2500 for a single and requiring a large amount of wires attached to the boat. The most interesting product available at the time was the smartoar system, however in my opinion its potential use was limited by the lack of live feedback (unless you bought a coaching tablet which costs around $5900 and would be tricky to use in a coxless boat). However 2014 looks like the year when that will all change.
OarInspired has shown promise ever since its conception, with the promise of wireless gates measuring force output, and the option to add other features like an impeller or GPS for boat speed, and working with rowing in motion to use their apps and rowing analysis software suggesting it would be a very comprehensive option for rowing telemetry. OarInspired has been in development for several years with no real idea when they would be able to relase the final product, but from an update to their facebook account today it looks like they aim to release in 2014. Pricing is to be confirmed but they are aiming to keep the price as low as possible, with a view to have a high volume/low margin production, so it is looking like it has the potential to be very competitively priced compared to the current options.
Secondly WebaSport (manufacturers of the RowXOutdoor) have also released some details of their new wireless oar power meter. Details are limited at the moment (the details webpage is currently only available in German) but the basic outline of the product suggests it will wirelessly connect to your smartphone, and then be able to measure force, boat speed (GPS), stroke length, rate (accelerometer), heart rate with a polar chest belt and display all this on your smartphone. An exact release date isnt clear but apparently it should be out more or less in the next month (providing there are no last minute hitches), with them suggesting a price of around 500 euros before tax, which compared to the prices of the current range of NK speedcoach products and also cycling power meters is pretty reasonable.
So, two new power meter options for 2014. But why is that important? Well if we look at cycling then you can see that training with power really has taken off, in so much that any serious competitive cyclist will always train and race with a power meter, infact training and racing with a power meter has been described as cheating with power , and for good reasons! With a power meter you are able to train at the correct level to get the most benefit for the session you are aiming to do (i.e increase aerobic capacity, VO2 max or lactate thresholds) and racing with one you are able to know exactly how hard you can go rather than rely on “feel” or boat speed, which is affected by the environmental conditions. Also remember most rowers already land train using power, the ergometers (C2, rowperfect etc) all record and display power output in watts if you prefer, or predicted on water splits. So its not too much of a stretch to then use the same power output values for your on the water training.
I don’t know about you, but i’m very keen to see what an easier access to power meters does to how we train and race in rowing at the moment.