Sculling refers to the act of using two oars – or sculls – to propel an inflatable rowing scull boat in a double-handed movement. In general, a person with just one oar will be rowing the boat, whereas the person using two oars will be sculling. In either case, inflatable rowing hobbies form a great outdoor excursion for people who enjoy rowing a boat – also known as a shell – alone and in groups. Rowing and sculling on the beach require basic equipment and gear, especially if you are planning to consider extreme water sports. People who live near lakes and rivers have the ideal aesthetics and vibes to inspire rowing pursuits as a part of their lifestyle. There are training camps that help you learn the ropes to this recreational freedom of simply going out into nature and letting the waves glide you away.
Rowing and sculling competitions are conducted as solo games as well as groups of two, four, and eight rowers. Various rowing techniques and inflatable rowing scull boats are used to organize some truly exhilarating water sports. These rowing shells or sculling boats get named after the crew’s favorite coach, athlete, team objective, sports inspiration, etc. Based on the number of rowers in the shell, there are different types of sculling boats designed to accommodate the rowers and get the dynamics in motion.
Sculling boats and their types
Sculling boats are used for the specific context of using two sculls – one in each hand – while steering the boat. With this principle in mind, various sculling boats are designed in which athletes can participate in team races by always holding a scull in each hand. In the rowing jargon, a coxswain, or simply cox, refers to the person who is in charge of navigating a racing boat. Also, the person who steers the boat using two sculls is often known as the sculler. The four different types of sculling boats are as follows:
A single inflatable rowing scull is also known as a single shell or 1x. It has just one rower who uses two sculls to propel and steer the boat by exerting and managing the pressure on the water.
The double inflatable rowing scull can be referred to as a double shell as well as 2x. There are two rowers on this boat, and they each hold a pair of sculls to navigate the boat.
Coxless quad and coxed quad
Four rowers are aligned on this quad sculling boat, with the coxed quad relying on a coxswain to steer and control the boat. The coxed type is mostly suitable for beginner and junior rowers.
The octuple inflatable rowing scull is a very entry-level type of sculling boat that is ideal for first-time rowers. Eight people come onboard, each with a pair of sculls, and there is also a coxswain to guide the navigation.
A popular brand: Row on Air – Linz, Austria
Row on Air provides state-of-the-art shells and accessories for rowing and sculling activities – among other water sports. With inflatable stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), canoes, kayaks, skiffs, and sculling boats, the possibilities are endless when you can simply fold up your rowing gear and assemble everything on-site within minutes! The brand issues two unique rowing mechanisms that can be installed on all compatible, inflatable boats. Its DIY, tool-free assembling and dismantling make excellent incentives for beginner and professional rowers, allowing them to carry their foldable boats and accessories in one bag. Row on Air is undoubtedly one of the leading choices for recreational and athletic freedoms on water.
RowVista forward rowing
This high-tech forward rowing system is equipped with a linkage mechanism and blade feathering. By using the foldable RowVista forward rowing sculls, you can steer your boat in the direction that you are already facing, with better orientation on the non-slip support for your feet. Forward rowing adds stability during the navigation, as you can make quick adjustments whenever needed. Connecting the Rowing Skid to your inflatable rowing scull boat transforms it into a heavy-duty sculling boat – combined with sliding seats.
RowVista employs lightweight carbon fiber tubes for the sculls to enable smooth rowing experiences. Its powerful rocker arm and rods are designed to minimize strain on your wrists by delivering efficient turning at the least effort. Thanks to the integrated ball bearings, the scull blade feathering is simplified, and there is less chance of ending up with blistered hands. The detachable sculls can be folded conveniently using the RowVista release leash. Moreover, the slot-and-click feature offers a DIY assembling process that makes your inflatable rowing scull boat ready to go without needing any tools. The Rowing Skid and RowVista sculls are available in a carry bag.
RowMotion reverse rowing
This classic reverse rowing system comes with 2-piece classic sculls that measure 1.75 m (69″) in length. It is also based on slot-and-click assembling ease, equipped with a soft-sliding seat that glides along the roller rails. Like the RowVista materials, the RowMotion components are also seawater-resistant to ensure your inflatable rowing scull longevity. There are D-rings that connect the Rowing Skids, and mounting straps help secure them in place.
The system has adjustable rowlocks too. Its Flat Outrigger (F) and Yoke Outrigger (Y) parts are compatible with various inflatable rowing boats from the brand. RowMotion Sculls can be purchased as stand-alone pieces. They are made of lightweight carbon with improved ergonomics for reducing stress on your hands and wrists.
DUDE 18′ inflatable rowing board
The brand’s wider inflatable rowing board – the DUDE 18’ – is a more stable choice for sculling activities. It can work with double sculls and is ideal for longer tours, especially if you have a partner along the journey. The inflatable board is quite flexible in terms of storage and transport, as it can be deflated and stowed away easily in its nylon backpack. It is equipped with a high-pressure air pump that has a deflate function to speed up the assembling and dismantling steps. By releasing the screw-type relief valve, the board deflates in no time.
DUDE 18’ has pre-mounted D-rings to accommodate the RowVista or RowMotion systems, depending on your choice for forward or reverse rowing. The board’s fin component is also included in the package with an easy-mount knob. Durability and high quality are ensured by the use of Woven-Fusion Drop Stitch designs, long-lasting adhesives, UV resistance, and temperature resistance.
MOJO 18’ inflatable rowing board
MOJO 18’ is the company’s faster version of inflatable rowing boats. It is a performance-driven idea that exploits the long, narrow structure to translate each rowing stroke into smooth gliding. This is further reinforced by the 4° V-Bottom and the rocker line. The entire boat can be deflated easily through the screw relief valve – just like the DUDE 18’ – and be tucked away neatly into the nylon backpack. There is a high-pressure pump to gauge the inflating and deflating stages.
If you plan a longer rowing tour, then the elastic luggage netting comes in handy to strap your bag full of essentials. The pre-installed D-rings allow the RowVista or RowMotion systems to be clicked in place. In order to facilitate maintenance, a repair kit is included with instructions to guide your DIY fixes and replacements. Like DUDE 18’, MOJO 18’ also features high-quality construction and temperature resistance for reinforced strength and lightweight comforts.
Row on Air accessories
There are several stand-alone accessories you can add to your sculling gear, both for maintenance, everyday use, and replacements. These include RowVista forward rowing sculls with rowlocks and portable bags, RowMotion reverse rowing sculls, foot stretcher supports, boat fins, sliding seats, and dry bags for the luggage netting. The brand also provides purpose-built parts and components for installing the rowing systems. There are electric pumps and air pumps for inflatable boards, as well as charger batteries for the equipment.
Scullers need to follow protocols and be familiar with various safety awareness points before they can launch their water activities. This is to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of other rowers – especially if the tour is group-based.
In the case of rentals and guided tours, there are check-in and check-out times that need to be signed whenever you take an inflatable rowing scull into the waters. Scullers should know how to launch their boats upstream and be able to execute rowing techniques to go with the flow. All rowers need to follow dock etiquettes in terms of schedules, organization, and spatial safety so that no one gets hurt by any equipment that is not stowed away properly.
Regarding water hazards and rowing traffic, it is important to find out about potential obstacles like trees and bottleneck areas along the tour, so your sculling activity can be managed better. This avoids bumping into clusters of nearby boats as well as swimmers who might be in the water. By organizing your sculling tour, you can have a better and more streamlined rowing experience without needing to worry about anything getting in your way.
Visibility is another crucial aspect, both in terms of the weather and your rowing apparel. It always helps to wear reflective clothing or a safety jacket with a high-visibility stripe on it to make rowers stand out during foggy weather.
Using a pair of sturdy sculls that are also lightweight in their design makes it easy to go on longer tours. Good ergonomics allow for optimum oar feathering as you row along, which is why oarlocks and scull structure are imperative in creating a secured grip.
Inflatable personal flotation devices (PFDs) are comfortable lifejackets for rower safety. There are also inflatable suspenders that offer protection, especially for beginner rowers onboard.
“Catching a crab”
At some point while rowing and sculling, everyone has experienced a sudden loss of control over their sculls. In the rowing lingo, this is commonly known as “catching a crab”, and it refers to the oar blades getting caught in the water against the boat’s momentum. As a result, the handle rebounds and often hits the rower in its wake, causing them to tumble into the water in extreme cases.
It is basically a situation where you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, causing the oar to flip parallel to your boat. Occasionally, while sculling as a group, a rower might miss the water during a forward stroke, or leave the oar underwater for too long. This would cause that one rower to be out of sync with the rest of the group. When inertia and momentum step in, they throw the rower out of balance automatically. This makes the person either tumble backward within the boat or fall out into the water.
Sculling during the pandemic
With sculling events, training, and competitions slowly easing back into operation, fans of the sport have optimistic views on the gradual transitions during the pandemic. Various clubs have implemented COVID measures to allow rowers and scullers to stay safe during their favorite water sports – both for recreational and athletic contexts. This includes regular gear sanitization, mandatory masks, and COVID testing prior to enrollments. The coxswains are required to put on face masks as well as face shields during all navigation tours. Also, specific time slots are allotted to support socially-distanced rowing experiences by launching limited single, double, quad, coxed, and coxless journeys.
All athletes need to keep their masks on throughout the duration of their practices and events. They should maintain social distancing and sanitize their hands frequently. The tentative returns to rowing and sculling activities have been a huge silver lining for Olympic athletes, as they can finally resume their competitive goals. There are mostly single-scull races to minimize contacts, which also means that people get to use new inflatables and hard shells for their sessions. With more people taking interests in single-scull events, there has been a rise in the sale of these single-scull boats around the world. These contact-free tours, designated times and rowing areas, thorough sanitization routines between trips, and rental restrictions enable as much of a COVID-proof environment as possible.