Rowing across Atlantic

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Manie B, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
    Posts: 2,043
    Likes: 120, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1818
    Location: Cape Town South Africa

    Manie B Senior Member

    Gents I have been asked to look into building a TWO MAN rowboat to cross the Atlantic. My part in the grand scheme of things is purely to build the hull and deck, "the team" will do all fitting out and finishing.

    They are obviously looking for sponsors because to do a race like this is VERY expensive, entry fee's alone are some 16000 pounds

    Anyway I agreed that I will see if I can do the build in ply and epoxy (aramid and carbon) which I am familiar with.

    Have any of you come across any drawings and specifications? It will be a great help. I need basic sizes and specs if you guys can help? My initial idea is a multi chine setup that I will do in freeship to minimize drag and wetted area. Also what do you guys think of the idea to incorporate a skinny carbon fibre daggerboard with a bit of lead ballast, just to add a bit of stability in extreme weather - say 40kg by 1m deep, that can easily be lifted by hand, mounted in the middle of the boat, that coupled to a retractable rudder "could" give better control in bad weather when rowing is impossible and you are hanging on a series drouge JSD ???

    your ideas will be appreciated Rowing Race 2011

  2. Knut Sand
    Joined: Apr 2003
    Posts: 471
    Likes: 30, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 451
    Location: Kristiansand, Norway

    Knut Sand Senior Member

  3. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 2,589
    Likes: 125, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 1650
    Location: Finland/Norway

    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Is there any rules about the boat or smth??? How much the weight of equipment etc? Those Woodvale things seem to have a ridiculous wetted surface and superstructure IMHO Can't see much difference rowing or not in the trades:confused:
  4. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
    Posts: 16,679
    Likes: 348, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 1362
    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Manie, sounds like an interesting project. At one point I think Eric Sponberg was involved in a similar project-you might PM him and see.

    Good Luck, Doug
  5. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 1,914
    Likes: 160, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 304
    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    how much do these voyages rely on wind/current?

    These look like boats with quite a bit of wind-catching area, and not particularly fast rowers...especially since we aren't talking about a 1 hour or even one day "best effort" .

    Factor in that 1/2 the time the boat will be drifting (but I guess you could deploy a sea anchor if the wind is unfavorable).

    What percentage of the journey is human power and what is favorable wind and current?

    Has anyone ever done one of these deliberately heading into overall net less-than-favorable wind and current, just so they could say they 100% rowed the whole distance?
  6. Crag Cay
    Joined: May 2006
    Posts: 643
    Likes: 49, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 607
    Location: UK

    Crag Cay Senior Member

    Up wind ocean rowing has yet to take off. It's just waiting for someone with the right combination of human qualities.
    Another millenium of evolution might just do it.

    Manie - don't try and reinvent the wheel in designing these boats. Morrison combined the few previous boats with his race boat design skills to come up with the first Atlantic Challenge boats. But that was back in 1995. A lot of ocean rowing has been done since then and all that learning has been incorporated into the latest designs. Don't think of building anything except one of the best designs. If you don't do tha,t you might as well buy one of the earlier proven designs second hand. Some come with more gear than their total cost!

    Lots of sailors in the UK and more so in the USA, wasted loads of money in the 80's and 90's thinking they could gain some advantage in singlehanded sailing by doing their own designs from unproven designers instead of plugging into the hotbed of development which was France. The maxim in any of these races is always the same: just copy what the top guys are doing until you're level pegging with them. Only then look to innovations in design to give you the edge.
  7. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
    Posts: 2,018
    Likes: 231, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 2917
    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Hi Manie,

    Thanks to Doug for his reference. Despite what Crag Cay says, I think there is a lot of room for improvement in transoceanic rowboat design. I helped Tori Murden, the first American AND first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, to rebuild her Morrison-designed Atlantic Challenge boat. Had she had the budget, I and Ted Van Dusen (Van Dusen Racing Shells) would have designed and built her a specially designed carbon fiber boat for that effort. But the dollars weren't there, so we rehabilited her plywood craft, American Pearl (which, by the way, was on display at IBEX this year--the first I had seen it since Tori's successful voyage.)

    Up to that time, and even to this day, most transoceanic rowing craft, in my opinion, are not properly designed--they are too shallow and they roll over way too easily. Also, for a two-person craft, the vast majority of the designs still have the sleeping accommodation and some primary storage in the ends of the vessel where the motion is the worst. If you don't have a rule-base length restriction for your design, then the boat should be long enough for a midship accommodation with rowing positions immediately fore and aft of that space. This idea was incorporated in explorer Ned Gillette's row from South America to Antarctica in his 28' aluminum rowboat Sea Tomato with four crew in 1988. Ned and I discussed this type of craft the year before over the phone, and he successfully designed and built the craft and completed the voyage. This was written up in National Geographic magazine in January, 1989, Vol. 175 No 1., page 129.

    I think your initial ideas show some realistic thinking for living on a bobbing cork in the middle of the ocean, so don't be afraid to try them out.

    Good luck,

  8. Dirteater
    Joined: Oct 2010
    Posts: 203
    Likes: 22, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 300
    Location: Canada

    Dirteater Senior Member

    Hi Manie,
    respectively... you being a Senior Member probebly know this already, but thought it wouldn't hurt to throw my 2 cents your way. I just finished reading "A speck on the Sea" By William H. Longyard. It is completely about the info you are requesting (a fairly complete history of non-powered boats crossing oceans). As a side note: I really, really enjoyed this book and found it very informative. The range of people and watercraft are truly remarkable. starting from 16 A.D. to present time. Certianly worth a boo on your part. best wishes.
  9. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 16,468
    Likes: 1,490, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Woodvale just moved next to our shop.
  10. Manie B
    Joined: Sep 2006
    Posts: 2,043
    Likes: 120, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1818
    Location: Cape Town South Africa

    Manie B Senior Member

    Hi guys, thanks for the replies.
    I am reading up a lot and as I enjoy this kind of research, I will keep on posting here with more info.
    Many thanks Eric Sponberg - I share your ideas and it will be very interesting to see what develops over the next year or so.
    I have the same concerns here but I dont want to rain on the lads enthusiasm and as an old fart dreamer myself, I would love to help and assist the lads where I can.

    Jeez if only I was 28 :D:D:D
  11. Simon C
    Joined: Nov 2010
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Devon England

    Simon C New Member

    Hi Manie B,

    I have worked on the development of ocean rowing boats for nearly 10 years now. The Phil Morrison timber design was the first I rowed. Now nearly everything we deal with is carbon fibre / kevlar.

    A large consideration is stability and drag. If the boat is too fine then you simply can't get the power down, you can make the boat longer but you still need to put a fair bit of weight on to gain the stability. A simple solution is to place a small keel on the boat. This has been tried on two boat "Fire Ant 2006" and "Britannia III 2009" the smaller Fire ant faired better with a pretty good crossing time, Britannia on the other hand created so much additional drag that the crew couldn't get the boat up and surfing affectively.

    The lighter composite lay ups have been primarily used by those that have moulds. We have recently gone through an extensive redesign of the original timber pairs boat. This kit is now available in carbon / corecell sheet material. Theres a saving of about 30% weight and it means that for the first time composite kits can be built anywhere remotely.

    If your guys are entering a Woodvale race then there are race rules regarding class. If they are rowing as a pair then this is still the main race class and boat designs are governed to create a level field. It has been closely monitored over the past 3 Atlantic Races to allow continued boat development, use of different materials but at the same time to create a "human" factor that allows the best prepared to win rather than the crew with the highest budget. The solo class is open to design, the pairs class can use the traditional timber pairs boat, Adkin's hull shape in any material and now the traditional boat produced from composite sheet. There are no rules on foils of any type, centerboard & rudders etc.

    The "turning around" of a cabin to create additional windage came to the fore in the 09 race, in the open solo class. There are now at least two further ocean ROWING boats that are looking towards maximising windage. This is recieving a few grumblings under the surface - the idea is to minimise windage and make the rowing crossings as pure as possible. Moves towards making rowing / sailing boats will ultimately undermine the sport generally. There are large areas of development still to expend into to and as composite costs reduce and the race rules ease, no doubt there will some interesting designs in te future.

    As to the point of rowing into wind... :) Thats like trying to skydive from the ground in an attempt to land in a plane at 9000ft - gravity being the small issue. Human powered boats of any type struggle into wind, although ocean rowing boats can now row into about 15kts of wind. There are many routes that get rowed that have far less stable weather systems than the mid-Atlantic. Funny thing is not that many people want to row them:)

    Hope that helps...

    Simon C
  12. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
    Posts: 10,401
    Likes: 1,036, Points: 113, Legacy Rep: 702
    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Survival of the crew ought to be priority #1. Anything that compromises that should be in the Criminal Code. If these things aren't designed to be able to maintain watertight integrity in rollovers, they shouldn't be out there. When things turn to crapola, which is very much on the cards, considerations of speed and efficiency don't make it on to any sane persons priority list.
  13. Simon C
    Joined: Nov 2010
    Posts: 3
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Devon England

    Simon C New Member

    Yes ofcourse safety is the over riding factor. All the designs spoken of are all self rifting and keep watertight integrity. There are 2 human factors that come into the equation, the crew maintaining a design level of water ballast and the crew keeping the cabin hatches closed in heavier conditions.

    The safety level of ocean rowing boats has increased significantly over the past 5 years. In this years Atlantic rowing race for example, 31 boats set off to row the Atlantic - all 31 boats safely made it across.

    The design and safety equipment is constantly refined to give the crews the best possible chance for success. Even boats that become open in class still have to demonstrate their ability to self right and have to carry a comprehensive list of safety equipment.

    Even by making boats finer or longer the over riding factor is to maintain a safety standard. Every boat that sets to sea undergoes a sign off and full marine survey.

  14. RHP
    Joined: Nov 2005
    Posts: 840
    Likes: 87, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 1183
    Location: Singapore

    RHP Senior Member

    Simon, I have followed ocean rowing races for a number of years, obviously yours at the fore and hope that one day I can participate. However, Charlie Pitcher's winning boat with its 'fixed' spinnaker cabin structure was a farce - how the organisers allowed it into the race I simply dont know and his race time clearly reflects the fact he is 'superman extreme'. Or maybe his cabin top pushed him across.

    The Americas Cup has been steadily ruined and I hope that ocean rowing can recover before we have boats clearly built to take advantage of flexible rules.

    I havent commented before now however IMHO the race lost a lot of credibility allowing that boat.

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
      File size:
      20 KB

  15. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
    Posts: 10,401
    Likes: 1,036, Points: 113, Legacy Rep: 702
    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    I would think it should be like Olympic sailing where they use identical boats. In any event, the novelty would wear off for most people before they got out of sight of land, or earlier ! Anyone wanna row around the world ? Gotta take a look at those prevailing currents and winds maps first methinks........
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.