Wanaka Rowing Club identified a need, made an application to NZCT, and received a grant of $6,441 to equip their boats with the BAT Logic Quick Release System and compatible boat shoes. The BAT System works for any boat and every seat, improving the comfort, hygiene, and performance of rowing.
Each crew member having their own shoes that fit properly means that the shoes will last longer, there is reduced risk of foot infections, and their performance will improve since feet don't slip out of the shoes during the stroke. In addition, the quick release system will improve the life of boat shoes; enable rowers to get on the water faster; increase the power, comfort, and stability of the stroke leading to improved performance; and reduce the risk of lower back injury as the enhanced connection with the boat and reduced instability means the glutes and hamstring muscles are more engaged - all of which leads to a greatly enhanced rowing experience.
Club member Grainne Power commented: “If we did not get funding, the disadvantages of having ill-fitting shoes would only have continued. However, the spectre of COVID-19 may have meant that the Club would have to make it a condition of membership that each member has to buy their own boat shoes. Our town's lifeblood is tourism but, due to COVID-19, many of our families, who rely on the tourist dollar, are struggling financially. Rowing is quite a costly sport and to ask novices to have to buy their own shoes and BL system could have been the tipping point between rowing or not. We are so glad it has not come to that.
“COVID-19 has crystallised the Club's thinking on sharing boat shoes. Shared boat shoes rarely get the chance to dry out completely and are the ideal breeding ground for fungal infections, which many of our members suffer from but which we have tolerated, wisely or not. However, with COVID-19 likely to be around for some time to come, the Club has decided that it must implement measures to phase out regularly shared shoes.
“In addition to hygiene issues, having to row in shoes that are often several sizes too big - akin to trying to run in Ronald McDonald style shoes! - means poor gluteal control and use, poorer stability in the boat as you try to stop your foot from slipping out, minimal foot support, poor engagement and poor heel load through the whole stroke. Our smaller school-aged female rowers who form the bulk of our junior membership suffer the most as they have to wear shoes that fit the male master rowers for whom the boats were originally built.”