My experience w/outrigger pontoons

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.
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AlecSpa
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My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by AlecSpa » June 25th, 2019, 6:46 pm

Granted it was only my 6th day on water (3 days camp at Craftsbury a few years ago) and now only 3 this wretched wet spring.

But, it was the first time I’ve ever actually ENJOYED it.

Before I pull the trigger on the better part of $300 for commercial pontoons I cobbled together my own that easily attached to the old oremaster outriggers in my tragically old Alden trainer.

Yeah, it would be easy to bash away with terrible technique relying on the pontoons but what they actually let me do was to pay attention to my technique under a very modest effort and hopefully wrap some Mylan around the correct neural pathways.

Poking around on the Internet it seems the use of pontoons is extremely rare. Already in my first session this evening I started raising them needing less reliance on them. Seems crazy they aren’t sort of a standard issue item for novices.

What am I missing?

Now I really want to get a racier boat knowing that I won’t have to spend the entire day swimming and practicing getting back in.

jamesg
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Re: My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by jamesg » June 26th, 2019, 1:27 am

We usually start with easier boats. I rowed a lot in my father's dinghys and skiffs on the Thames. Then at school I first sculled in a clinker rum-tum, about 30 inch beam. Managed to fall in, crab, from that, but could walk ashore as it was low tide. All this before 14.

Then in clinker eights for two years, finally shells.

Floats are used in para-olympic events where the sculler has no chance of survival in the water if alone. I have often fallen in from my shell. Usually close to shore, it's no joke climbing aboard. I've seen over 80s sculling, but in a double, which is safer.

I only scull in summer when the water is warm. Takes me two outings to feel safe again and pull "hard".
78y, 188cm, 87kg, MHR 155. Last 2k (24 May 19) 8.46.6@22

AlecSpa
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Re: My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by AlecSpa » June 26th, 2019, 8:32 am

And I bet there’s sort of a stigma surrounding them where people think they are for para athletes and people so dramatically uncoordinated they can’t learn to do it in a shell.

Not everyone has easy access to a club or good instruction. Maybe the sport wouldn’t be viewed as so esoteric if it was easier for people to initially enjoy.

In any event, I’m going to order a purpose built set of pontoons and enjoy my learning to row curve. Not only that but it puts me in the market place for a different boat much sooner. You would think the industry would really want to encourage that.

Cyclist2
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Re: My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by Cyclist2 » June 26th, 2019, 9:10 am

Today you can find a reasonably nimble shell that you have to work at to capsize in smoother conditions. I have a Maas Aero, for example. My wife, who has rowed it all of 4 times never felt unbalanced in it and is now doing very well. I learned in an Aero rowing on San Francisco Bay. There are many similarly designed boats for novices (or advanced in really rough conditions).

As you noted originally, you hardly use the pontoons after only a couple times. Save yourself some money, use your DIY ones for two more outings, then go for it. It's more a mental thing than a physical thing, like walking on a beam sitting on the floor vs. raising it 5' off the ground - same beam, different mindset.

However, I sort of agree that if you want to go buy a 10" wide racing single to learn in, then pontoons would be cheaper than buying different boats to progress in. Depends, I guess, on your ultimate goal. I row our club's Empacher, but still really enjoy my Aero out on bigger, open bodies of water.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

frankieboy
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Re: My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by frankieboy » June 26th, 2019, 1:12 pm

Edon TS515 training scull at $2400 new comes complete with removable pontoons. A little slower than an Aero but at 17ft long you would expect that. Polyethylene hull but don't be put off it is a real shell, a lot of run to row.

Learning with pontoons allows you to focus on technique. Some people are taught in a racing shell or progress to a racing shell too soon and it's a wet experience and they usually end up with a technique more designed to keep them from flipping than propelling the boat efficiently or having any fun. The Edon has a round bottom like the Aero so you get the feedback if you are doing it right or wrong. We like them a lot, we get a much higher retention rate from learn to row now. There is only one importer http://virginiarowing.com but they do ship all across the country

If you are looking to learn sculling and want to have a good experience i would recommend getting some Edons or fitting something similar that has a round bottom with a pair of pontoons.

Frank

AlecSpa
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Re: My experience w/outrigger pontoons

Post by AlecSpa » June 26th, 2019, 2:13 pm

Thanks for the input and clearly there are shells more suitable to learn in than others but my point I guess is, pontoons turned pretty much any shell into a more enjoyable learning experience without tracking down or owning one of those stable shells.

I’m 6’ 9” so maybe my higher center of gravity and much greater weight changes the dynamics of a boat as well.

Three days at the Craftsbury camp and a couple days on my own this spring, I have only gone for a swim once so it wasn’t like I was that much of a train wreck.........😉

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