Paralympic design:
adaptive rowing equipment

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Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

Stabilising pontoons and specially designed seats are just some of the modifications that can be made to equipment used by rowers at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

The hulls of the adaptive boats are identical to those used by able-bodied athletes, apart from the single scull that is wider.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

Pontoons or floats may be fixed to the riggers to help athletes who can't use the full lower body to balance the boats.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

Seats in an adaptive single are high-backed and fixed into position to support the lower and upper back while in a double the seat is slightly lower backed to allow for trunk movement but is still fixed.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

Rowers are restrained by velcro straps that allow for easy release in case of a capsize.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

Athletes classified as visually impaired wear masks that cut out all light whilst on the water.

Paralympic design: adaptive rowing equipment

The Paralympic rowing finals take place at Eton Dorney on Sunday 2 September.

As part of a series of stories about Paralympic design we've also featured the Nike Spike Pad worn by Oscar Pistorius and racing wheelchairs used by David Weir and Shelly Wood at the games, and you can see all our stories about London 2012 here.

Here is some more information from British Rowing:


Equipment

Adaptive rowing challenges barriers to participation in the sport for individuals with learning, physical and sensory impairments, by providing opportunities supported by a range of technical and coaching resources.

Often you will find that there will be no need to fork out hundreds of pounds for new boats - it is possible to row in a normal boat with some of the following equipment and adaptions that are inexpensive and easy to use:

Boats

The hull of the adaptive boat is identical to able-bodied boats (with the exception of the single scull, which is a wider boat). In the Paralympics, all boats are standard boats, though in normal international adaptive rowing the LTA4+ is allowed to be slightly different. Stabilising pontoons (floats) may be fixed to the riggers of all the boats except the LTA4+.

Seats and straps

Seats in an adaptive double or single are different to the seats in an able-bodied boat (the seats in the LTA4+ are the same). In the single, a high-backed seat is used and fixed into position to support the lower and upper back. The rower is strapped to this seat to prevent trunk movement. In the double, the seat is slightly lower backed to allow for trunk movement but is still fixed.

Seats are also available to fit indoor rowing machines. Clamps can fix seats into a stable position and various protectors (such as gel protectors) will ensure there are no injuries caused by the fixed seats.

Gloves

To help athletes with limited hand function, gloves are available which help the athlete grip a blade or handle. These can be used in both indoor and on water rowing.

Restraints

Velcro restraints are used in racing to ensure that there is no leg or trunk movement as appropriate. These are always fixed with velcro so in the event of a capsize athletes can quickly remove the restraints. They can also be used in indoor rowing and outside racing to give increased support whilst using a seat.

Masks

To help ensure a fair and level playing field, athletes classified as visually impaired must wear a mask whilst on the water. This mask must cut out all light.