I finally had the chance to test the performance of the foils in my single during the 2019 Head of the Hooch. Between 2015 and 2019, I have competed in the Men's Lightweight 1x (55+) event every year, although the event was shortened in 2018 due to conditions. In all other years, this event is a 5000 m downstream course with variable current and wind conditions. While raw times vary with current and wind, I have had the benefit of competing against 3 of the same competitors every year.
In 2019, I had the second-fastest raw time in this event, which is by far my best finish place in this event since I first rowed the event in 2015 (see Table of results). But did the foils make me faster? To answer this question, I compared my raw times against the three other rowers mentioned above (see chart). Rower A always gets the best raw time; he is one of the best >60 lightweight male scullers in North America. Rower B generally gets the second-best raw time, although this dropped to third (behind me) in 2019; he is an experienced rower and very consistent. In contrast, Rower C improved significantly from 2015 to 2017. Between 2015 and 2017, I was generally 36.8 to 58.0 seconds behind Rower A and 15.0 to 25.1 seconds behind Rower B. In 2017, I was 6.1 seconds behind Rower C. But between 2017 and 2019, I gained between 27.8 and 35.5 seconds on these three rowers. I attribute this 2.4% to 3.0% speed increase almost entirely to the foils. It is certainly not due to an increase in my fitness as my best 5K erg times have remained relatively constant since 2016 (19:12.7 in 2019, 19:17.3 in 2018, 19:19.6 in 2017, 19:19.5 in 2016). Your mileage with foils might vary, but they clearly help me a lot.
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