Its time to delve into the dark underbelly of skiff rowing – and we’re talking bums here. Unlike the sliding seat racing boats the Oxbridge set use, the seat in a skiff is fixed and your body is the thing that has to move with each stroke. This inevitably creates friction and, as we all know, friction is not always your friend.
Skiff-bum is a common complaint after rowing for any length of time and whilst it varies from person to person the general symptoms are pressure sores, welts and even open wounds if you don’t look after your botty properly. To put it into context at the finish line of the NB Men’s Open last year (an 18 minute race) my bum was bleeding freely as a result of poor short choice. We won though so it was totally worth it. Critical to prevention of skiff-derriere are seat-type, protective shorts, gel pads and even vaseline (which some members of NB rowing club apply in commercial quanities).
Seat setup for Puffin is something we want to get right from the off so we’re looking at a wide variety of options. Each of the North Berwick skiffs has a different setup that affects the body in its own way depending on the angle front-to-back, depth and the curve of the edges. The first one I knocked up out of some spare CLS was heavier than any of the NB ones but allowed me to plane a really deep curve on both the front and the back to minimise bum-seat contact. It may seem unusual to curve both front and back but although the leading edge of the seat is often the main pressure point and source of grief, in my experience just as much pain can be caused by bum-cheek compression at the stroke finish when you’re leaning full back. Curving the back of the seat away could minimise this but time will tell.
Upon dry fitting it feels pretty nice to sit on but it’s one thing to sit in a static boat in a shed and quite another to row 25 miles per day on. We’re working on a few variations which will be tested in the April sea-trials.