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New Rowing: Play the Sea. Design of the Volans Coastal

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Author: Van Schaijk, A.
Mentor: Jansen, A.J. · Keuning, J.A.
Faculty:Industrial Design Engineering
Department:Design Engineering
Type:Master thesis
Keywords: design · rowing · boat
Rights: (c) 2012 Van Schaijk, A.


In July 2011, the Volans2 was introduced on the market. It is a single skull, recreational rowing boat designed for a wide public to make the rowing sport more accessible. The design is compact and light, challenging for rowers of variable levels. The implementation of a sliding rigger system (in which the rigger slides instead of the seat) creates advantages for balance and speed. As the company is willing to extend their product portfolio, the development of a recreational coastal rowing boat is the next step. This coastal rowing boat will be used up to a kilometer from the shore.

The analysis starts with research in the field of rowing and naval architecture. This information is used to investigate the context and the competition of the Volans Coastal. It seems there is a lot of competition in the market that can be classified in open water shells, coastal rowing shells and other crafts like kayaks, surf skis and wave skis. All combine sport and leisure in the same environment. The classification of the rowing shells is based on design. The open water shells look very similar to recreational coastal rowing shells like the Volans2. They are symmetrical, more stable than race rowing shells and aim to prevent the boat from catching water. Coastal rowing shells have asymmetrical hull shapes, are self bailing, and are even more stable. They are designed for one of two purposes: speed or touring on the head seas.

To stand out when competing in the existing market, the Volans Coastal needs some unique selling points. A specified assignment describes what the design should be like, based on the results of the research. First, the boat has to be practical. Meaning that it should be lighter than its competitors and easy in transport and installation so the focus will be on the actual row. The design should fit the company’s looks and feel, being stable but still fast and challenging. Most important, the design should distinguish itself by offering an unique experience of play and fun in surf. The design should function in the headseas as well without concessions in speed and performance.

A coastal rowing test was done with the Volans2 and the Virus Turbo skiff which can be said to be the biggest competitor of the Volans Coastal. These boats are repeatedly used as reference during the development of the Volans Coastal. After a process of idea generation and concept development, three possible concepts are presented. Each of them offers a solution from another perspective. A selection is made using the optimalisation criteria based on the reference boats. From there on, the hull design is finished and optimized.

To function in both situations, the final hull shape is designed initially for maneuverability and positioning in the surf. To optimize the hull shape for the head seas, a skeg is implemented in the hull providing directional stability. The wave piercing characteristics of the bow and the specific shape of the stern contribute to the desirable sailing and surfing characteristics attaining high speeds. The shell is equipped with hatches, carrier straps, and a carry handle to improve the user friendliness. An integrated bailing system discharges surplus water while the deck design fits the typical looks of company.

The evaluation of the design is executed theoretically, since a full scale model is not yet finished. So far, the design fulfils its requirements. However, testing in real life will evaluate the design thoroughly and will probably show some points for improvement for further design stages.