As I discovered at Plovdiv, the previous generation of Velcro footstraps issued with the Wintech adaptive boats (see above) are actually non-compliant with FISA safety standards. The double Velcro strapping with no single pull-point means that they are not “quick release”.
The FISA Rulebook states in section “IV. Boats an Construction”:
- · “2.5 Quick release foot stretchers – In all boats the foot stretchers, shoes or other devices holding the feet of the rowers shall be a type which allows the rowers to get clear of the boat with no delay in an emergency. Where shoes or other devices holding the feet will remain in the boat, each shoe or device shall be independently restrained such that when the heel reaches the horizontal position the foot will be released from the shoe. In addition, where laces, Velcro or similar materials must be opened before the rower can remove his feet from the shoes or other device, all such materials must be able to be released immediately by the rower with a single quick hand action of pulling on one easily accessible strap. Where shoes or other devices holding the feet will not remain in the boat, each shoe or device must be able to be released by the rower without using his hands or with a single quick hand action of pulling on one easily accessible strap or release device.”
British Rowing has recently communicated that all UK races will be run in conformance with this rule (local associations have some flexibility in the application of FISA rules). The Marlow RC Chairman recently reported this update to all squad coaches in preparation for the upcoming Marlow Spring Regatta to make sure that all of the Marlow boats were compliant and to provide a heads up that marshals would be looking out for this issue.
So what can you do if you have the old, non-compliant double-velcro strap footplates commonly found on older, wide-body adaptive Wintech (but seen on other models of adaptive boats too)? There are 3 degrees of resolution (in increasing comprehensiveness…and cost):
- 1. Jury Rigged – As reported in the Plovdiv piece, you can fashion a shoe lace around the straps, apply the straps not too tightly and when you pull on the lace loop, the Velcro straps can come off. This approach is not ideal. John Stephenson and I tried several variations on this basic approach and found that the solution did not work consistently with a “single quick hand action”. You might be able to get away with it by having loosely done straps to that when the marshal checks it, it appears to be quick release, but loosely done straps doesn’t help hold the athlete in the boat.
- 2. Swift Foot Straps – Swift Racing sells “Flexfoot strap, velcro type” (bow side and starboard side) for £8 per footstrap. These can be readily screwed into the existing legacy footplate (the one that had the old Velcro straps) with a bit of drilling (see photo directly below). This is the approach we used at Marlow to replace all the old legacy double-Velcro straps.
- 3. New Footplates – Wintech now kits its adaptive boats out with fully compliant quick release foot straps (see photo at bottom), but replacing the entire footplate is much more expensive. Furthermore, the older style fat singles have a notched rail with latch for attaching the footplate (as opposed to the more conventional screw/nut set up) so you would have to purchase and replace new footplate rails as well with this approach. But it would provide up-to-date, top-of-the-line quick release.