[title size=”2″]Optimizing Drag Factor[/title]
The performance factor is a very powerful tool for optimising the performance of a rower and a crew. The gearing (in-board/out-board ratio) and stroke rate have a very strong influence on the efficiency of the rower’s metabolism. The power producing performance of rowers can to some extent be compared to that of automobile engines. In automobile engines one can distinguish between the low-rating/high-torque diesel engines and high-rating/ low-torque petrol engines. The optimum performance of these two types of engines lies at different rpm’s. This is true for rowers as well. Like an engine, a rower has a certain combination of work per stroke and stroke rate where his body works at its highest efficiency. At too heavy a gearing, the rower will not be able to exhaust himself, because his muscles give-up prematurely, and at too light a gearing the rower cannot use the force of his muscles to its full extent. His optimal performance lies somewhere in between. From our experience we know that the loss in performance of a rower or crew, when not geared correctly, may be as high as 10% of his or her power output. To obtain the best possible performance, it is therefore of prime importance to determine the optimal gearing/stroke rate combination for a rower and a crew.
This can be done most efficiently on the ROWPERFECT3 (RP3) dynamic rowing simulator, by measuring the power output / stroke rate relation at various levels of gearing, and optimizing for maximum performance factor, subsequently transferring the same “feel” of gearing to the boat. The first rower who did this systematically, back in 1989, was Frans Göbel . During his preparation for his first world title in the lightweight single scull in Bled in 1989, he used the prototype of the ROWPERFECT3 (RP3) for this purpose to his advantage. The following year he did the same on the first production model to win his second world title in Tasmania. In 1992 Peter Haining followed his example, which brought him three consecutive world gold medals in the lightweight single scull. Tests run with Greg Searle in the summer of 1998 showed that the optimum performance in the boat and on the dynamic boat simulator were obtained at an identical stroke rate and speed, showing that the ROWPERFECT3 (RP3)results and the boat results are fully compatible and comparable.