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An Introduction to Rowing Boat Rigging Maintenance

An Introduction to Rowing Boat Rigging Maintenance

It’s your first time running a maintenance check on your shell, but you are new to rowing and don’t quite understand what everything is, or does yet.  Let Space Saver teach you rowing boat maintenance in our simple guide.

The coach isn’t expecting you to pull the boat apart and rebuild it brand new, but you need to understand the basics of how things should be working.

Below is an easy to follow guide to looking after some of the more introductory components to your rowing shell that if taken care of, could save you valuable time in training or during the race.

Special thanks to our friend Jon, at RowIntel for his work in creating these guides.

Features common to all boats

  • How to check your wheel on a rowing boat seat
  • Heel ties / heel restraints explained for rowers
  • How to replace rowing shoes and footplate
How to Check your Wheel on a Rowing Seat Heel Ties Explained for Rowers How to Replace Rowing Shoes / Footplate


Regardless of what make boat you are in, here are some common things you should check before each row:

  • Top Nut/Top Bolt
  • Three footplate nuts (or however the shoes are mounted to the foot stretcher board)
  • Tightness of actual shoes to footboard (are the four screws that hold each shoe on all tight? Wiggle each shoe to check)
  • Seat track wingnuts (under the deck – access via hatch cover)
  • Rigger mounting nuts/bolts
  • Footstretcher/Footboard Three wingnuts
  • All four seat wheels and undercarriage if using a double-action seat)
  • Proper number of spacers/poppers/washers (none missing, oarlock/rowlock does not slide up and down pin with more than 1/8″ freeplay)
  • Only Hudson boats, check two bolts in center of footstretcher that control height and angle to ensure they are tight
  • Check Heel Ties
  • Coxswain – check bow ball is secure and not perished

Here is a selection of images showing how they look on a range of boat hulls.

Click on images to enlarge.

Vespoli E hull

Hudson S8.21 or S5.21

Hudson USP8+

For more helpful maintenance tips, check out

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