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Virus In Action! | Customers Talk About Virus | Manuals | Technology
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The Sliding rigger in Practice

Animation comparing the action of the sliding seat with the sliding rigger

Large version

What are the advantages of a sliding rigger over a sliding seat?

One of the most important skills in competitive sculling is handling the recovery, from release to catch, during which you move your body aft in the boat while your oars are out in the water. Good scullers manage to get their hands out of the flow, follow with their torso and finally pull themselves smoothly aft with their feet without greatly checking the boat's run through the water. No matter how well this is done, however, the momentum of a human body moving aft has a significant impact on the boat when all that weight has to stop and start forward again.

Technical Aspects of the Sliding Rigger

Not only does the rowers momentum work against the boat's run it works against the power transmitted to the oars. A portion, small but measurable, of the rower's power goes to starting and stopping his or her body. When the rower weighs 180 pounds and the sliding rigger mechanism weighs only eight pounds, it takes a lot less power to accelerate the rigger than the rower's body, leaving more energy for the oar.

In addition to the inertial effect of a rower's weight moving forward and aft every two seconds, that same weight transfer is pushing first the bow then the stern deeper in the water. With 100+ pounds moving back and forth over 18 inches or so, the bow and stern will alternately burn an inch or more on every stroke. If the rower's body can remain stationary in the boat, momentum checks and bobbing are eliminated.

History of the Sliding Rigger

(related to competitive rowing)
The sliding rigger isn't a new invention. The first patent was registered by an English engineer in 1883, not long after the first sliding seat was developed. The idea fell dormant for a half-century or more and was revived after World War II, again by the English. A French prototype emerged about that time as well, though both were abandoned due to mechanical difficulties and the noise of the moving rigger/stretcher. Eventually the problems were solved, and in 1981 the German rower Peter Michael Kolbe won the world sculling championship in a rolling-rigger boat developed by Dr. Volker Notle and built by Empacher. The design was fast banned from international competition and has rarely been seen since.

In America a few builders, van Dusen and Peinert Boatworks among them offered a boat with a sliding rigger, but within a few years interest died out, and today it's difficult to find a sliding-rigger boat on this side of the Atlantic.


Excerpts from open-Water Rowing, issue 12, February 1999. Written by David Stookey/Editor and Publisher or Open-Water Rowing.


History of the Sliding Rigger
1883 (12.11.) William John James

A British engineer first recorded a patent in London at the Empire's Patent Office. On paper the idea worked, yet the materials available at the time where not adequate for his invention.

1946 Georg von Opel

The German industrialist had a boat built with Roller Rigger and won an exhibition race in Offenbach, the 1948 Germany Spring Regatta against top sculler Messerschmid. Yet, G.v.Opel considered the boat and rigging as to heavy and put it into his private museum.

1962 Klaus Hinz

Mr Hinz, in cooperation with boat builder Gehrmann was the next in line. Their boat and rigger was tested by legendary German coach Karl Adam and leading sculler Moritz von Groddeck.

1969 Dr. Zohlen

Presented the Torbedo Skiff with Roller Rigger. Two important men in the German rowing community commented that, "in connection with earlier (1962) efforts, the construction has its merits and should be put to the test on the water".

1970 Klaus Filter

Head of boat construction in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) reported of training sessions in a roller rigger boat by GDR top sculler Goetz Draeger. Problems with the seat where reported.

1980 Dr. Volker Nolte

His ideas win the cooperation of Mr. Wolloner of Empacher, Germany's leading manufacturer. Together they produce a prototype.

1981 Dr. Volker Nolte

First race (10km) in Dortmund, Germany. 1981, Volker Nolte wins the first race in his Roller Rigger boat in Salzgitter, Germany.

1981 Peter Michael Kolbe

Mr. Kolbe wins the race at the International Regatta in record time, in Luzern, Switzerland.

1981 Peter Michael Kolbe

Wins the World Championship in Munich in Roller Rigger boat by Empacher.

1982 All A-Finalists

At Rootsee International Regatta in Luzern, rowed Roller Rigger equipped sculls.

1982 FISA

After much deliberations, the Sliding Seat Fixed Rigger is being declared as the only standard for all International, World and Olympic competition events.

1990 Noel Louvet - Virus

Re-discovers the Sliding Rigger and launches it successfully in the recreational and open water scull, the Turbo II Wing. Turbo II Wing and Classic have also become the first rowing sculls produced in Polyethylene using Rotomolding for its production. Thus producing affordable and durable yet highly efficient recreational sculls. The Sliding Rigger prove to be a very successful rigging, particularly for a relatively short recreational and training boat. A short 16ft./5m boat has a great number of advantages for the recreational rower, such as storage, easy transport, maneuverability etc. The draw back comes with moving the rowers weight on the sliding seat. Herein lies the main advantage of the sliding rigger: The seat is fixed, hence no weight transfer, thus no bobbing or momentum check.

1990 to 2000 3000+

Virus Sliding Rigger boats, Turbo II Wing (Polyethylene) and the Turbo Skiff SL (Fiberglass) have been sold to rowers interested in exercise and recreation.

Reliable Virus Sliding Rigger

The Virus Sliding Rigger has also been installed in various other boats for long distance rowing events and transatlantic crossings.

All information provided by:
Dr. Volker Nolte, Assistant Professor University of Western Ontario/Canada and
Noel Louvet, Owner, Virus Boats Sarl. - France

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