1908 1948 2012
Rowers Cambridge Crew University of London women (1953) Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster, Steve Redgrave, James Cracknell, Olympic Gold medallists Sydney 2000
Racing kit Plain cotton kit

Racing kit circa 1908

  • Rowers raced in cotton shorts and either long sleeved or short-sleeved tops. These pieces of kit would most often have been white. Off the water rowers quickly changed into their smart attire and would be in a jacket and tie.
Coloured cotton

Racing kit circa 1948

  • Rowers still raced in cotton garments but more colours began to be added to the garments. Also a lot more singlet or vests were worn for rowing at this time.
Skin tight lycra

Racing kit 2012

  • Rowers now race in a one-piece lycra; the colour of the lycra represents the club or country they are representing. The lycra is skin tight to prevent any material being caught up in the slides of the boat or by a blade handle.
Training equipment Reading women Newly developed ergometer being used on deck for training Debbie Flood using a Concept II ergometer
Early rowing machines

Early machines

  • Hydraulic rowing machines were developed in the US by the Narragansett Machine Company and used from 1900. The machines were then transported for use abroad, particularly for Henley and cities hosting the Olympics.
Development of machines

New developments

  • The development of the early rowing machines continued and they were used for indoor training along with indoor rowing tanks where clubs could afford to install them. The tanks were used to recreate the rowing stroke in water without actually moving, allowing training to go ahead even when the weather prevented rowing on the river.
Modern equipment

Cutting edge

  • The Concept2 ergo was invented in 1981 by two rowing brothers in Vermont: Peter and Dick Dreissigacker. They had become frustrated by rivers freezing over during the cold Vermont winters and they felt the current rowing machines on offer did not replicate the rowing stroke correctly. So in 1980 the Model A machine was developed using a bicycle wheel fitted with two plastic paddles. The designers have now produced a Model E and the Concept2 ergometers are used worldwide by rowers of varying degrees; from Olympians through to recreational gym users.