Mike Davenport

Article Summary:

How can waxing your row boat's hull help you?

Should You Wax Your Boat's Hull?

To wax or not to wax? That is the question. And the answer is . . . ?

Over the years, I've learned that there are two thing that can help you generate maximum hull speed, in terms of your boat's hull. One is to make sure that the hull is free of dings, dents, and any abnormalities (such as holes or repairs) that make the hull "non-smooth." The other thing to do is to make sure that it is as clean as possible.

Those two steps are about the only hull preparation you need to do during the competitive season.

However, your average rowing shell only spends about one-third of a year in the competitive season. What should you do for the other parts of the year?

My suggestion, wax the hull.

Okay, okay, okay. I know that waxing means extra work. It also means that you have to take the wax off. And waxing is by no means glamorous work.

Yet the benefits of waxing can certainly outweigh the hassles involved.

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone should run out, get a can of wax, and start buffing. But I do suggest you do just that if:

1) Your boat is stored in direct sunlight.


2) The water you row in is polluted.

You see, during the non-competitive seasons you should be concerned with trying to protect your hull from damage, especially the paint. If you store your boat outside, or you row in polluted water, your paint (or varnish if you row in a wooden boat) is at risk. And if the paint/varnish gets damaged you won't have a smooth hull for racing.

You go slower.

That stinks.

Wax can help.

A good coating of wax, put on once at the beginning of your training sessions can greatly reduce the effects of ultraviolets from the sun that can biodegrade the paint/varnish. And the same wax can insulate your hull from toxins that might be in the water.

I don't use a special wax, just a good car wax that has ultraviolet inhibitors in it. I've been pleased with such common products as "Turtle Wax," although special marine waxes are produced. Some folks I know use them, but they usually are significantly more expensive than the car waxes.

At the end of the training season, I just remove the wax, clean the hull, and the boat is ready to race. I'll discuss exactly how I clean the hull in the next issue.

So . . . wax on, wax off, for better speed.

Mike Davenport has been involved in the sport of rowing since 1975. Now he is the head rowing coach at Washington College, in Chestertown, MD. For several years Mike was involved with the U.S. National Team, as their Boatman; and in 1996 he was the Boatman for the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. Currently, his company, SportWork, is the leading educational consultancy for USRowing and their Coaching Education Program. Mike has written eleven books, seven of which are about rowing. His Web site http://maxrigging.com and his monthly e-zine MaxRigging strive to supply the latest and greatest information about rowing and the rigging of rowing equipment.

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