Earlier this week the Rowing Service posted about a new trainer by "Revolutionary" of the UK. Although this one looks like it is a way off - especially if you don't live in the UK - if you like rowing technology this one is worth a look. We have the chance to offer a bit more to this piece.
Revolutionary on their site describes their trainer as follows:
The Revolutionary Rower uses standard rowing fittings mounted on a circular hull. The boat rotates allowing it to be used on confined areas of water such as swimming pools.
Being highly stable, it provides an excellent level platform for beginners to confidently construct their strokes whilst still requiring concentration on timing and providing a realistic stroke feel. Coaches can sit in the boat beside the trainees, or watch comfortably from an armchair at the side of the pool!
The rower is effectively just a large floating flywheel and offsets the energy generated by the rowers by pumping water. This is equivalent to the flywheel on the most widely used ergometers and an interface is available that allows the use of the standard PM3 monitor with the Revolutionary Rower. For the first time, rowers have a direct comparison between their on-water rowing performance and their fitness.
-Realistic rowing feel - better than even the most expensive powered rowing tanks
-All weather use possible on indoor swimming pools
-Use in a safe, controlled, monitored environment
-Standard performance monitoring
-A new form of racing
I'm not sure how it works as a "new form of racing" but it looks intriguing for training novices in a small area on a stable platform. The site also tells of a new "racer" that borrows from the trainers principles - for straight line racing - but no further info is given.
Bethia passed on more information direct from Revolutionary's Martin Bishop that adds a lot to the Rowing Service posting. Bethia had asked for video - unfortunately none was available....
Getting in and out of the rower is easy as it is very stable. The edges, where the riggers normally would be, have non-slip surfaces as has the central flat area. Simply step aboard then push off with the oars. To manoeuvre, you need to think in the opposite way to a normal boat - if you row normally it rotates, if the rowers act as if turning a normal boat the rower can go vaguely in straight lines but slowly. It really is designed to just rotate in the same spot.
The current rower is quite heavy as the priority was to create a robust trainer where novices didn't need to worry about where they stepped. Lowering the amount of glassfibre or switching to carbon would make the boat far lighter from the same moulds. The latest development has made it possible to move the boat around as a wheel. It is quite heavy and depending on the type of fins selected, weighs in the region of 150kg to 200kg. If security is not a problem I would recommend leaving it in the water (with a trampoline cover to keep the rain off) as the build-up of algae does not affect performance.
Normal oars can be used. I personally opt for Macon type blades as they can be reversed and used equally as bow/stroke port/starboard blades. The rig is fixed as one of the compromises to keep the design simple. Any level of gearing may be used to suit the users although heavy gearing may well suit larger rowers to avoid hitting each others backs. I've had my own boys at ages 7 and 10 successfully rowing with Steve Redgrave's old extra long Olympic oars but only light fin drag. You currently have the option to adjust the level of drag by using different style fins and restricting the water flow. However, I am now trying to standardize on fins to more closely replicate a concept 2 ergometer.
The speed can be whatever you require although the major area of development has been to design the drag and inertia to give a similar feel to a real rowing boat at equivalent speeds. Normal in revolutionary terms is between 10 and 14 rpm which gives the same relative speed as straight line rowing (you calculate distance from the puddle diameter). If no drag fins are added, the speed is effectively unlimited but you will find that there is nothing to push against and crabbing is almost inevitable.
At the normal spin speeds, dizziness is not a great issue. Yes you can make yourself mildly dizzy if you look out of the boat at the horizon, but if you are concentrating on something in the boat there really isn't a problem. Chances are dizziness will not be something you will notice and definitely not after a few goes. Centrifugal forces start to become noticeable at the higher speeds but not sufficient to greatly affect normal strokes.
Any number of people can use the boat up to 4. You will find that your giant male athletes will probably have to row just as a pair. Ideally a balanced number 2 or 4 gives a level platform but 1 and 3 work well too.