Professional Rowing Equipment

Professional Rowing Equipment

Rowing is an excellent way to exercise, enjoy the water and experience the thrill of competition. Rowing, or crew, is a competitive sport that requires athletic ability, technique and specialized equipment. If you’re looking to go pro, you’ll need to invest in rowing equipment, stay in shape and use your skills. 

Table of Contents:

Rowing Equipment List

Rowing Equipment for Outdoors

If you’re interested in the professional rowing sport, you’ll need to know how to choose quality equipment. Of course, you’ll need a rowing boat and oars, but plenty of other equipment will help you excel. These include rudders, oars, riggers, a bow ball, lights, sun protection, PFDs, seat pads and clothes.

Rowing Boat

A rowing boat, also called a shell, will be necessary to practice your rowing. These typically consist of carbon fiber and reinforced plastic to make them lightweight and durable. There are regular crew boats and sculling boats, which are shells made to allow for two oars per person. You will need to choose a crew shell or a scull, depending on the type of rowing you will be competing in. Rowing boats come in different sizes for one person, two people, four people or eight people. Boats can also be with or without a coxswain for steering. These boats can be anywhere from 27′ to 60′ long. Professional boats are narrow and streamlined. It’s also wise to invest in a shell cover for travel and storage.

Professional rowing boat materials include the following.

  • Wood: You might choose a rowboat with a wooden outer layer for its beautiful appearance. However, the wood takes a lot of maintenance and care to remain in good condition. 
  • Fiberglas: Boats with a Fiberglas outer layer require reasonably straightforward repairs. If you choose this material, you will want to keep it out of the sun when you’re not using it because it can suffer from long exposure to ultraviolet rays.
  • Composite: Composite outer layers make the boat remarkably rigid and sturdy. The primary issue with composite shells is that repairs can be challenging.


The rudder is a piece of equipment under the boat that helps with steering. Rowers in boats without a coxswain can move the rudder with their feet to steer it. Various skeg/rudder configurations can help deliver different results depending on your preferences.


Your oars are the next most critical piece of equipment. Oars, like paddles, have a long shaft with a flat blade at the end. Unlike paddles, they remain locked to the boat’s side. They usually consist of wood, but more modern ones are carbon fiber. A balanced oar has a weight added to one end to make the blade lighter. A quality pair of oars can cost several hundred dollars, so you will need to keep them safe, clean and protected with an oar cover.


Riggers are frames that attach to the boat’s sides to support the oars. These frames can be metal, Fiberglas or carbon, and they’re critical for allowing you to use leverage. Sliding riggers can help increase speed. Experiment with different ones to determine your preference.

  • Side-mount riggers: These traditional riggers mount to the side of the hull.
  • Wing-riggers: These attach to the top of the boat and resemble the wings of a plane.
  • Euro-riggers: Traditional European riggers have options to easily adjust the pin and spread/span.

Bow Ball

USRowing’s 2021 rules mandate a bow ball at least four centimeters in diameter, which means you must have one to participate in events. It needs to be white or fluorescent and firmly mounted to the bow of the boat. Bow balls are a safety feature that prevents puncture injuries if your boat collides with another. Mount one to your boat and store another in case it gets damaged.


If you plan on rowing in the early morning or after dark, you will need to attach lights to your boat. Navigation lights for a rowboat usually consist of a red light on the front port side, a green light on the front starboard side and white lights at the stern.

Sun Protection

Being out on the water leaves you exposed to the sun for hours at a time. Consider wearing a hat and sunglasses. You can also purchase UV-resistant clothes. Remember to wear sunscreen on any uncovered skin and reapply according to the instructions. 

Personal Flotation Device

Some life jackets can hinder your dexterity while rowing, but there are many different options for PFDs. It’s vital to stay safe while on the water, and your risk is especially high if you are rowing alone. You can choose inflatable PFDs that you’ll wear as a vest or pouch. Some require manual inflation, while others will automatically inflate when submerged. Choose an option that allows you to move freely. You could also bring a PFD aboard to store in the boat.

Seat Pad

A seat pad is not an essential piece of equipment but it goes a long way in increasing comfort. You’ll be able to enjoy rowing for much longer when you’re comfortable, which allows you to practice more. Seat pads can reduce stress on your body and even improve your performance. 


When rowing, you will also need to wear specialized clothing. Soft, breathable and form-fitting clothes will be the best option. Loose clothing is likely to get caught on something. You will also want to avoid cotton. Choose fabrics that dry quickly and continue to keep you warm when wet. Spandex shorts or trousers are a good fundamental option. Depending on weather conditions, you may need a base layer, an insulating layer and a wind block layer. Having layers will also be helpful as you get warmer from exertion. Rowing gloves can help protect your hands from blisters while also keeping you warmer.

  • Base layer: Your base layer of clothing should be form-fitting and able to wick moisture off your skin. Running or workout clothes could be suitable for rowing, provided they’re not too loose. 
  • Insulating layer: For excursions during cold days, you’ll need extra layers for warmth. You could get a synthetic fleece jacket as long as it’s not bulky. 
  • Wind-blocking layer: Look for a form-fitting jacket with ventilation. It should be waterproof, breathable and not hinder your movement at all. Wind-blocking jackets made specifically for rowers can help you retain warmth without getting too hot. 

Rowing Equipment Maintenance

Rowing Equipment Maintenance

Once you’ve invested in quality rowing equipment, keeping it in top shape is crucial. Always inspect your gear so you can catch any issues before they cause permanent damage. 

Boat Hull

Since your boat is a considerable investment, you will need to take stellar care of it. Rinse the boat with fresh water after every outing. Waxing your boat is an excellent way to protect it, especially if you are rowing in polluted water or saltwater. Find a high-quality boat wax, read the instructions and keep up the routine. To remove any buildup on the hull, polish your boat once or twice a year. Finally, complete any needed repairs immediately! 


To take care of your oars, rinse them with water after every use. Then, wipe them with a cloth to remove any dirt or salt. Occasionally, you should thoroughly wash and dry the oars and then wax them. Remember to store the oars in oar covers out of the sun. Also, protect your oar blades whenever possible. That means you shouldn’t use your oars to push off from the dock. 

Tracks and Moving Parts

To extend the lifespan of your boat’s tracks and moving parts, keep them clean, instead of merely lubricating them. Use soap and water and make sure to rinse it off. You should lubricate parts such as ball-bearing seats and any place where metals are rubbing together.

Rowing Exercises

Rowing Exercises

Stay in shape during the off-season by exercising your rowing muscles and building strength. The best way to exercise is to practice outdoors on the water, but that’s not always possible. If you can, equip your home with an ergometer, also known as a rowing machine. Remember to stretch and warm up before exercising.

Ergometer Exercises

Ergometer Exercises

An ergometer, also called an erg, will help you prepare for rowing competitions during the whole year and in any weather. 

  • Time trials: Many rowing competitions are a fixed distance. In the time trial exercise, row your selected distance as fast as possible to improve your aerobic fitness. Keep track of your times so you can compare them. Time trials can be exhausting, so you only want to do these periodically to monitor your overall progress.
  • 500-Meter intervals: Row repeated sprints of 500 meters to help improve your anaerobic fitness and your lactic acid tolerance. Row the distance with maximum effort, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat.
  • Long and steady: The next type of ergometer exercise will help improve your stamina. Row at a little over half effort for a set time or distance. If you can’t carry on a conversation while rowing, you’re using too much effort for this exercise. 

Other Exercises

Other Exercises

Even if you don’t own a rowing machine, some other exercises can improve your rowing and overall strength.

  • Pull-up: Pull-ups strengthen your back muscles and arms, which are critical for rowing. If you can’t do a full pull-up, you can try a few methods to get there. If you have access to an assisted pull-up machine, that can help. Otherwise, start with a pull-up negative. Jump up so your head is above the bar, then lower yourself as slowly as possible. This move will strengthen the same muscles it takes to pull yourself up.
  • Back squat: Back squats strengthen your legs, which will help improve your drive. Your legs do most of the work when rowing. Keep your chest upright and make sure to use the correct form.
  • Deadlift: The deadlift is an essential rowing exercise. Like the back squat, you will have to keep your chest upright and your shoulders straight. Soften your knees and use your legs to lift the weight. Review the proper form to avoid injury.
  • Diagonal toe touch: The diagonal toe touch requires no equipment. For this exercise, lie down on your back. Stretch out your arms and legs, then touch your right arm to your left foot and vice versa. Make sure to bend at the hip and keep your movements controlled. 

Rowing Apps

Gauge Your Exercise With Apps

Apps are an excellent way to monitor your performance and take your stamina, endurance and efficiency to the next level.

Rowing in Motion

Rowing in Motion is ideal for monitoring your rowing on the water. This smartphone app can track boat acceleration, speed and technique metrics and give you feedback on how to improve. You can save recorded sessions to an online logbook to analyze your training even more. You can even create custom programs with different distances, times and rest intervals where you can choose a target stroke rate. 


The BoatCoach app is for use on the water or with the Concept2 ergometer. It displays stroke rate, stroke count, distance, speed, time and more. You can choose from eight programs or create your own. BoatCoach can also graph your performance and give you valuable insights.

Rowing Machine Workouts

This app is for improving your indoor workouts. It’s a stroke rate trainer with a stroke-per-minute metronome. It provides guided rowing workouts to help you train at any fitness level, and allows you to log your workouts. You can easily track your activity and strokes per minute.

Best Rowing Techniques

Best Rowing Techniques

The British Rowing Technique is an effective way to gain and maintain speed. If you need help improving your technique, try to get a friend to videotape you. Row with different strokes per minute and review the footage. Start with a slow and steady stroke and see where you’re lagging or rushing. Then, try to row fast. Are you still using excellent technique at that speed?

Drive Phase

Remember to keep a comfortable grip on the oars, without gripping too hard. During the drive phase, start by placing the blades in the water. Bend your legs and keep your shins vertical. Your body should be leaning forward and your back should be straight. You should mostly be using your legs to pull the oars back. Keep your arms parallel — if your arms go over your knees in an arc, the blades could go too deep. By the end of the drive, your body will swing back. Push your hands down to pull the blades out of the water. At this point, your legs should be straight.

Don’t allow the seat to move backward faster than your shoulders. Additionally, don’t allow your elbows to drop down or lean too far back.

Recovery Phase

Next, begin the recovery phase. Move your hands down and away from your body. Relax your arms and shoulders, then lift your knees to allow the seat to move. Move forward until your shins are vertical again and continue with the drive phase again.

Don’t allow your knees to lift up, as they will get in the way. Make sure to reach forward enough to get a long stroke.

Skills for Professional Rowing

Skills Needed for Professional Rowing Equipment

You need specific skills when using professional rowing equipment on the water. Professional shells are narrow and can flip over under many different circumstances. You need technique, balance and attentiveness for professional rowing.


Your rowing technique is vital for on-the-water rowing. Excellent technique will allow you to row efficiently, going farther and faster with less effort. Poor technique could lead to injury or capsizing your boat. Crucial technical aspects are your grip, posture, control, balance and rhythm. If you’re not sure about your technique, ask a coach or another rower.

While you don’t need finely honed technique on an ergometer, it is essential to practice correct technique to avoid injury. Practicing good technical skills on your ergometer will help translate those abilities to the water.


To stay upright in your boat, you will need balance. The only way to improve this is to practice on the water. If you don’t have balance, you’ll know. Your vessel will rock and potentially tip over. You will need balance when turning, speeding up, avoiding obstacles and all other aspects of rowing.

Since balance isn’t necessary to use an ergometer, your rowing machine won’t do much to help improve your balance. Try these drills to work on your balance.


Safety is paramount in outdoor rowing. To stay safe, you will need to be aware of your surroundings and avoid any obstacles. Be attentive at all times and learn to communicate with your team in case of a problem.

Rowing at home on your ergometer doesn’t require any attentiveness. If your focus is lacking, opt for indoor rowing and try the water another day.

Explore EZ Dock Products

Explore EZ Dock Products

Rowing requires equipment, practice and skills, but it can be an excellent way to work out and enjoy the water. If you have a waterfront property, make your access to the water even easier by investing in EZ Dock products. If you host rowing events, you’ll need a sufficient dock. EZ Dock offers low-profile rowing docks that support launch and recovery. 

Low-profile docks make it easier for rowers to get in and out of their vessels because of their lower freeboard height. Rowers can save their energy for the competition, instead of wasting it getting into their shells. Our low-profile rowing docks also integrate with existing docks. They can come in modular sections or configurations to use with the dock you already have. Low-profile docks can be just as sturdy as a regular dock due to the anchoring system and couplers.

View Low Profile Docks

While there may be a lot to consider when choosing a rowing dock for you or your team, EZ Dock is the easy answer. You should always be able to trust the products you invest in to compete. Our patented rowing docks meet and exceed all FISA and USRowing standards. They’re heat and slip-resistant and designed for minimal maintenance. Find an EZ Dock distributor near you or request an online quote today!