Highest recorded speed

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Does anyone know the highest recorded speed, a single rower has achieved

-- David Bean (bean2846@aol.com), November 30, 2000


Dear David,

I don't have an answer to your question, but I can say that the highest speed ever reached or recorded probably didn't occur in what most O-WR readers would call "open water". Typical coastal and riverine environments are more demanding than the laboratory-like circumstances of flatwater racing so that factors other than speed must be considered. The matter of measuring the absolute maximum speed attainable by a rower would seem to fall within the purview of flatwater racing organizations like the USRA and similar organizations around the world, but many of these groups have placed restrictions and outright bans on certain equipment, like sliding riggers, that preclude ever finding out, truly, how fast a rowing craft can go. There probably are groups interested in determining how fast a rowing craft can go, but you probably wouldn't feel confident putting to sea or taking a trip in the boat that sets or holds the record.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), December 01, 2000.

Perhaps some one should just go ahead and form an "unlimited" class just as is done in motor sports. I wouldn't want to drive on of those vehicles but they still test them at the Salt Flats.

-- Tom Galyen (tagrev@aol.com), December 01, 2000.

In regard to the challenge of ultimate speed, would the boat have to have an extreme waterline, like 30 feet

-- David Bean (bean2846@aol.com), December 02, 2000.

Dear David,

Probably, although some interesting tests have been run that hint at the possibility that a human-powered watercraft can be made to plane. If so, a shorter, broader, ultralight craft may be in order. Technology may be the key to developing oar-powered planing craft and money may be the biggest obstacle. Even if such craft were developed, it's unlikely that they'll soon have any practical or recreational applications.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), December 02, 2000.

The Highest speed that I have ever RECORDED in my 16' whitehall is 8 knots. This I observed on my GPS, admittedly, while surfing down a fairly large wave. However, my average speed for that particular 40 mile row was less than 4 knots.

Certainly the flat water people do not have a monopoly on thrilling speed.

Kurt Breuer

-- Kurt Breuer (breuer@cybrzn.com), December 04, 2000.

11 knots on the face of a 5 foot roller in my 19' Asay surfboat, according to my GPS. Only sustained for about 10 seconds, but what a thrill! My partner ditched his oars and hit the dec

-- cork friedman (captncork@aol.com), December 05, 2000.

I believe a record was set several years ago by a catamaran/hydrofoil "boat" powered by a pedal/propeller setup. They hit 8 or 9 knots in flat water./there may have been a picture in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics.

-- Mark Young (mty3383279@aol.com), March 07, 2001.

the Cat/hydrofoil apparently was the fastest human powered craft...but like the previous answer indicates it was pedaled not rowed. it also had to have a special lauch ramp and a running start & yes i think it was the slightly faster than a racing 1x over 2 kilometers.

Olympic/world class single oarsMEN are i think in the neighborhood of 6:30 inutes?? for 2km (with a standing start..)this works out to ....Well half of 6:30 min is 3:15 /kilometer 1hr/3:15 min = 18.46 kilometers/hr or 11.53 miles/hr. (1.6km=1mile)

they probably could go slightly faster than that with sliding riggers (prohibitted by the rules) lighter boats (boat weight is also regulated to a minimum wieght of 32lbs)and for Half or a quarter of the standard 2km used in the Olympics/worlds champions ships

all kind of "other" factors also come into play. the depth of water you're rowing in (they say in shallow water waves generated by the hull of the boat can bounce off the bottom and come back to slow down the boat ) water temperature. the closer water gets to 4 degrees Celcious (being Canadian you'd think i could spell it right)or about 38 fahrHiet - the denser it gets. so warmer water is better

wind speed. & direction are obviously other factors and which constantly change ESPECIALLY over a 2 kilometer race course.

I attended a Rowing Canada conferance last year - where one national Team coach indicated that at one regatta in switzserland in 1999 - conditions were ideal all day long, (calm warm water, etc etc.) and a couple of world records were set during the semifinals. BUT they all came almost back to back..and all happened within an hour of each other...he called it a "Golden Hour" were everything was absolutely perfect. The other thing was the crews that set those records did NOT win their events the next day. Crews from the other Semi finals not held during the Golden Hr beat them out the next day. and no one came even close to setting any records because the conditions changed.

Basically - comparing times & records etc..especially at these low speeds is a black art...

Mike Reiner

-- mike reiner (reiners@silk.net), April 09, 2001.

Has anyone ever put a hydrofoil on a rowboat?

-- Jojo Mcbean (jojo_mcbean@hotmail.com), November 01, 2004.

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