A Different Class

It’s the time of year when not many important things happen. Or rather, lots of important things happen, but none of them are terribly newsworthy.

We’ve spent the last few weeks painting the boat, replacing kit as necessary and making her ready for our first weekend outing of 2018 over Easter, by which point we very much hope we won’t have to break the ice with our oars.

All that, however, pales in to insignificance when compared with the fact that the 2017/18 race was completed in record time, with the last boat arriving in 70 days. It’s an astonishing feat, and one that had a lot to do with some tremendous rowing and strong winds, but also the fact that there are two different classes of boat, one of which is considerably faster than the other in the right hands.

In their basic design, the classes, Pure and Concept, look very similar. A fours version of both will be about 26′ x 7′ and have the same basic shape and layout, with much of the storage under the decks and a cabin at either end for down time when not on rowing duty.

The main difference, however, and the one which makes a Concept boat so much faster, is that the larger of the two cabins is at the bow end of the boat. This gives them a huge advantage when it comes to windage and therefore in theory makes them a good deal quicker.

I say in theory, because rowing a Concept isn’t all sunshine and skylarks.

Concepts have a lower freeboard. This means that in following seas (i.e. most of the time) you’ll get wetter as there is less protection from either the freeboard or the stern cabin. They are also generally less stable.

Getting in and out of the bow cabin – never fun at the best of times – is even less joyful on a Concept. With the smaller stern cabin, you’re immediately exposed to more of what the Atlantic has to offer and there’s less chance to admire your surroundings.

And our boat? It’s a Pure. This should give us a slower but more stable crossing. Time will tell!