A Boat for Women to Row? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-19-2017   #1
Dr.AndyDVM's Avatar
Nampa, Idaho
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A Boat for Women to Row?

I have been boating for 4 years. I started with a 14' Maravia Diablo. After a couple years, I bought a 16' Maravia Typhoon. I like both boats and row and paddle them well, but my wife and daughter both have trouble rowing them. My wife is 5'2" and my daughter is 5'5", so they are small and medium sized women. I get a lot of resistance from both of them to even try to learn. Their big complaint is they don't feel they can get the boat to move where they want it to. We have a Lynx 2 person Inflatable Kayak that they both enjoy paddling, but I can't seem to get them to take the next step. I would like to have another captain or two in the family to give me a break or take over if I swim.

I am thinking of getting another smaller boat. I thought we could use it for a paddle boat or R2 or good a good learning boat for my wife and daughter. What is the best boat for women to row or learn to row? I was thinking of a 10-13 foot like the Maravia Spider. Or, I know it won't be to versatile for R2 or paddle, but maybe a smaller cat. Any thoughts?

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Old 02-19-2017   #2
Cortez, Colorado
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The thing that pops into my mind, is to try and prioritize boating with (or inviting along) women who have the skills and confidence you wish your wife and daughter to acquire, and their general stature. I think that example and mentoring would go a long way towards your wife and daughter seeing that it has a lot less to do with what you are rowing or brute strength, but much more to do with reading water, positioning, technique, etc. And not "directed" or "arranged" mentoring, but just make the connections and let it unfold organically. It's probably not best if you teach them, anyway, but that someone else does. It would be great if they ended up going on some women's trips (or trips with others), too....that way, they gain their own river identity, separate from you.....and more a peer to peer relationship would evolve between you - better all around.

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Old 02-19-2017   #3
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Dundee, Oregon
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A girl can row any raft you can. I know you know that, but it needs to be said. If your rower's position fits you well and not them, that may be the start of the issue. The other is, what kind of rapids are you having them row in? My wife is fairly fearless in an IK and timid in the raft. I'm confident she could take my 14' Sotar down some decent class III successfully without help, but I doubt she sees it that way. She wants to learn to row more, but she typically only rows in class II WW, but in that water she is able to learn. Rafts can be piloted with brute force or liberal use of timing and current. I can pretty much "make my raft do what I want" most of the time, but I strive for using current and timing my moves to use the least amount of input available, until I fuck up and I have to use brute force.
I am going to stick her in the raft this year and have her row more with me close by in a kayak. I am also sticking my son in one of those new Aire Spud kids kayaks, so this summer is about training for me. My goal is to get my 9 year old on the water into some solid class II and **maybe** some class III in his new boat. I want my wife to row some class III this summer as well. She has lots of whitewater experience, so she understands currents and listens to me pretty well.
I don't know your area super well, I've only done the Payette and the Bruneau/ Jarbidge in Idaho. I also want a smaller raft, but the jury is still out for me if I want a Storm, Mini Max, or a Puma. I've paddled a Super Puma, but now I really want to try a smaller Puma. They are way easier to pilot than a full size raft, but a swim is more possible too.
Also, paddling and rowing a raft is a different ball of wax to me. I have an easy time rowing, it just seems natural to me, and I only have to control myself. The pivot points are different and just getting a team to work together can be a challenge. I took some people down an easy class II run last summer and I felt like the only paddler in a raft with 3 adults and 4 kids. Luckily I did just fine, but I was using every trick I knew to pull it off.
Oh, and my son last summer at 8 years old was piloting my raft on the Deschutes river when it was loaded. It was easy riffle water, and he did well. Make sure they are learning on river that is at their comfort level.
I made some assumptions, hopefully some of this info helps.
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Old 02-19-2017   #4
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Old 02-19-2017   #5
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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A Boat for Women to Row?

Get a 12-14' cataraft for them. Keep it lightly loaded so it maintains its sportiness. It will be way more responsive to rower input over a similar sized lightly loaded raft and will turn much easier with pivot strokes (ie push/pull). The result will be them feeling happier about their oar strokes moving the cat and overtime as they become stronger and more confident on the oars they will probably feel better about rowing the raft.

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Old 02-19-2017   #6
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Load up the 16' and put them on the boat together. It can take some big hits if they can just straighten it out should they not make a move. Focus on them learning to read the water and work with it not against it. I have been on the grand, westy, cat, etc. with women 5'3 and 5'5 120-130# who have rowed heavy 16-18' boats just fine. They work with the water and dont try to muscle moves at the last second. Most desert/ big water rivers require a setup and then not much move making. For more technical stuff they may need a small light boat but for most multi day stuff you are taking kids on just stick them in the big boat and row away. They'll get it after a bit. A good solid captains floor so they can stand and row can help as well.
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Old 02-20-2017   #7
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Sandy, Utah
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I'm a 5'5" lady rafter and I've been rafting for 20 years. I'm moderately strong, but by no means "buff." I started & learned on a 14 foot cataraft. I rowed it solo with a medium load of gear. I had several really good lady mentors early on, who taught & encouraged me to tackle just about anything. I have done many trips where I was the only gal, and I was able to keep up with the boys just fine. We have a 16 year old girl in our group who began rowing when she was about 13 years old. She rowed a 14 foot cataraft with her mom on the boat teaching her. She rowed her mom's cat on all but the hardest rapids on the MFS last August, and she has rowed a 15 foot raft on class II solo.

I think starting on a cataraft really served me well in terms of learning to maneuver & read water. I won't say that a cat is any safer than a raft, but it seemed to have a less steep learning curve to me. I also have owned a 12 foot Hyside raft which was super fun and handled class III very nicely. When I switched to a 14 foot Sotar SL raft two years ago, I worried about it being heavy & less maneuverable than my cat, but it turned out to be just as good, if not better.

If you already have a 14 foot & 16 foot raft, and an IK, then get your girls a 14 foot cataraft. I think they will feel more comfortable and a cat will be a nice addition to your fleet. You seem to like Maravia and my cataraft was a 14 X 24 Maravia. Their cat tubes are a good design mix of stability & sportiness.
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Old 02-20-2017   #8
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C. Springs, Colorado
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A 12' raft is a great size for a woman to learn to row. They make great low water boats too. Get her a Hyside if you can afford it.
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Old 02-20-2017   #9
the grove, Oregon
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Size of the female in relation to the boat size is not the issue, saying a small female or male can't row a 14' raft is like saying a bigger guy can't row an 18 or 20' rig on the Grand Canyon. These females row a 20' fully loaded rig no problem.

Your women have trouble rowing cause they don't know how to row, not the boat size. Lots of practice is what they need, and a desire to do so, not a special boat. Also not everyone enjoys these things, which is OK. Some rowers don't like to kayak and vice versa, not everyone likes to paddle and SUP, etc. Desire is the key, if they have no desire to do a thing, then leave it be. Different strokes for different folks as they say. Just because you are super stoked and have fallen in love with rowing doesn't mean you can impart that stoke and desire to another.

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Old 02-20-2017   #10
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Tabernash, Colorado
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You could get a small cat, maybe make it a paddle cat to r-2 as well.
One hidden agenda with this, is that it would be funner than shit for you to row as well!!! Go with an NRS frame or something else that is very adjustable if you do that, so you can get it dialled for whoever is rowing it at the time.

Women can definitely row anything men can, I have seen some little girls rocking it in some heavy loaded down barges.

Frame and oar set up would be more important than boat size, since they are probly dialed for you, but suck for your wife to row on.
Agree, don't try to teach a significant other pretty much anything, best for a relationship not to. What Grumper said in regards to inviting some women boaters on trips.

A small Cataraft would be really fun though
Oh ya, what Shap said to, nice picture by the Way!
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