How to Make a Fixed-Back Sliding Seat

10 Aug
[YouTube instructional video “Fixed Back Sliding Seat for Adaptive Rowing“]

Adaptive rowing is about adapting the sport equipment to the particular capabilities and needs of the individual athlete.  While “pararowing” has internationally approved classifications to provide some form of basic grouping for competition, in reality the abilities and impairments athletes have varies widely.  This diversity means that sometimes even the adaptive equipment needs adapting.  At Marlow Rowing Club, we faced the situation where several athletes needed fixed back support, but also had use of their legs and so wanted a sliding seat.

To date, if an adaptive rower needed or wanted back support, their primary option was a fixed seat.  For Arms and Shoulders rower (AS) with acute impairment in the lower half of the body, a fixed seat with its support straps are essential.  But for many adaptive rowers, they are too limiting.  While they need some back support, they don’t need all of the support of a high backed seat nor all the confining straps.  Furthermore, while they might have leg impairments, that might not mean they can’t use their legs at all.  For example at Marlow, our athlete Zoe Berwick (website cover girl and inspiration to the Fixed Back Sliding Seat) has a incomplete spinal injury which limited her to wheelchair use and overtime weakened her core strength and control that she could not do the body rock in a boat. Another incomplete spinal injury, Arwel Rowlands, had difficulty securing himself on a flat sliding seat due to sensation and control impairments in his lower body. And finally, a CP (cerebral palsy) athlete, Neethu Cormack, had mobility impairments constrained her body position without back support.

To solve all these problems, we basically turned a fixed back cox seat (for a Touring Gig) into a sliding seat.  The cox seat is lightweight, sturdy, built for rowing demands, and available as an off-the-shelf part from rowing suppliers. The seat is now being used by adaptive clubs around the country by athletes with other similar issues. For example, Hilary Birkenshaw of Guildford has difficulty supporting her core for long training sessions, but does has leg use and found the fixed seat rowing very confining.

Hopefully, the directions below will allow you or your boatman to fashion a fixed-back sliding seat. The video above stars Marlow RC “Gaffer in Chief” John Stephenson who engineering the seat walking you through all the steps outlined.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on

Part List:

Fixed Back Sliding Seat - parts

  • Swift Racing Touring Gig Cox Seat (
  • 4 undercarriages (high enough to keep the wheels clear of the underside of the seat)
  • 2 spindles (282mm long)
  • 4 single action wheels with bolts and washers (1 plain and 1 shakeproof)
  • 5mm countersunk screws (approx 20mm long with washers and nylon nuts)


1. Assemble undercarriages by attaching wheels.

Fixed Back Sliding Seat - step 1

2. Drill holes in seat by placing undercarriages on the underneath side to mark holes.

Fixed Back Sliding Seat - step 2

3. Attach undercarriages to seat.

Fixed Back Sliding Seat - step 3

Detailed instructions are outlined in the video at top produced to walk you through the process.

4 Replies to “How to Make a Fixed-Back Sliding Seat

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