Sunday, 24 May 2020

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Zen and the Art of Rowing

The Search for Perfection
The Attainment of Perfection

Have you ever looked at the logo for World Rowing?

It is the symbol of the Enzo Open Circle from Japanese Zen Buddhism, a symbol for enlightenment and the search for perfection. There are two forms of the Enzo Circle, one open and one closed.

World Rowing has rightly chosen the Open Enzo for their logo as the goal of any rower is the search for perfection, with the open mindset of seeking always to improve our rowing stroke. With that comes the improvement of our athletic bodies, our equipment but also our technique.

The Randall Foil is the next step in the search for perfecting our equipment and the pursuit of speed however the foil has become a complementary tool to seeking perfection of the rowing stroke.

In the Zen tradition, the Archer is able to draw their bow and find synchronicity with the bow, arrow and the target, even in the dark finding their mark. [click here] How many of us are able to complete a rowing stroke with our eyes closed without ending up in the water. Yet having a deep subconscious feeling, rhythm and understanding of the rowing stroke is something that we should all strive.

Many have acknowledged that the Sinkovik brothers have been able to reach a level of perfection few have ever achieved. [click here] They have an understanding of the fluid motions of water, they are able to feel for the water, place their blades precisely, and draw their oars with graceful motion and harmony.

1. The Catch and the Randall Foil

How to Improve Your Rowing Technique - Rowing & FitnessThe Catch is the start of the rowing stroke and happens in the finest fractions of a second and is difficult to see without slow-motion HD Camera. But it is that moment which creates the foundations for the entire stroke. The perfect catch is the combination of three factors. 1.The changing direction of the oar 2. the start of athletic force 3. the moment the blade touches the surface of the water. It is when the athlete can bring together these three elements with precise split-second timing.

Yet timing is impossible without an understanding of when the blade actually touches the water. Modern lightweight materials and skinny blades make feeling the catch almost impossible. What you commonly see is the miss-timing of catches and the rower can only feel the water after they have plunged it deep below the surface. Looking at the Sinkovic brothers, they have worked hard to overcome this and their timing and a horizontal draw is right at the surface of the water, and not down in the depths below.

Using Randall Foils allows the rower to develop a greater understanding, feeling and physical motion in the search for the perfect catch. The rower still needs to put all their training, technique and skill into each and every stroke however the Randall Foil gives every rower the best opportunity to set the foundations for a great stroke with a perfected catch.

What a Randall Foil enables the perfecting of the catch in three ways. 1. The foil enables the rower to immediately feel the surface of the water. The foil actually hits the surface and stops any further downward motion. The foil's resistance is something that the athlete can feel and needs to respond do by not contributing any further force or movement. 2. When the foil hits the water the rower can also hear a light 'slap' on the surface of the water giving not only physical resistance but also an audio indication, like a metronome for a musician, when the catch has occurred. 3. The foil has positioned the oar precisely in the water for the athlete to begin a horizontal drive and can know that the blade is perfectly positioned.

There are many factors which contribute to an effective stroke and the Randall Foil can give you the best start to every stroke.

2. The Drive and the Randall Foil: Force

Let us consider what is occurring in the water during the drive phase of the rowing stroke. Any blade needs to build up a wall of water or resistance to be able to work as an oar. There has been many blade designs seeking the optimal size and shape to hold onto the most amount of water... generally, this has been a brute force approach - bigger the better. But the bigger the oar, the harder it is to actually row with.

In the first part of the drive, the rower is trying to get a hold of the water, with the sensation that the oar is slipping away until enough resistance is created. Modern oarlock measures this as 'catch slip.'  The feeling the rower has during mid-drive is full athletic force is only able to be exerted and as the oar approaches perpendicular, the boat responds to this force by surging ahead. At the end of the drive, the athlete is now trying to keep up with the accelerating boat, pulling hard with their arms until it's time tap down, feather and release the oar from the water.

During the drive, the rower has limited opportunity to effectively contribute to boat speed and it is imperative to apply force at the right moment and in the right way. Modern rowing science attempts to measure this using force curves however a slipping oar and an accelerating boat render this practically meaningless to help us improve or understand the drive. You cannot overcome the physical reality and the performance characteristics of standard oars with minuscule data analysis.

However, the Drive with a Randall Foil is completely different. In the first part of the drive with a foil, the rower now has immediate force connection with the water as the foil creates an instant hydrodynamic welling of water behind the blade. It's a simple design change, but the oar now has an immediate hold on the water and the rower can exert their full athletic force right at the catch. The Randall foil enables the full rowing stroke to contribute to the full acceleration of the boat. No more slipping away making your stroke and scientific data more meaningful.

3. The Drive and the Randall Foil: Direction

After the Catch the standard oar is still on its same downward trajectory, down below the surface. With an oar buried down into the water, there is a feeling of greater resistance, however, this is only from the added weight from the shaft now being dragged through. If you've ever dragged a pole through the water you will know how much resistance it produces. As the buried oar shaft now is moving through the water, streams of water start forming around and splashing off the shaft. This is known as 'braking splash' and has been shown to have a large effect on boat speed. With any downward movement under the water, the oar has to return back to the surface at the end of the drive, the deeper the dive the more oar shaft has been in contact with the water and the more resistance has been overcome. Some elite rowers use the 'deep dive' to build up resistance, but this has only been effective in overcoming a fundamental design fault of the standard oar, which I discussed previously, slip.

RANDALLfoil: Research
However, after the Catch the Randall Foil halts the downward direction of the blade and allows an immediate change of direction. It is this change that enables a fully horizontal movement throughout the Drive. The blade stays at the surface and with the correct pitch (Zero) the oar will operate at full efficiency right at the surface of the water. No longer any deep diving, braking splash, or dragging of the shaft through the water. The Randall Foil is the only way to ensure a fully horizontal and resistant free drive.

4. The Drive and the Randall Foil: Conditions

New Zealand rowers win opening heats in Rio amid rough conditions ...Adverse conditions can have an extreme effect on rowing performance and boat speed. We all know the effort it takes to row into a headwind or the joy of racing with a strong tailwind behind you. As rowers, we are all very aware of the wind conditions and the effect it has on our boats. However, what we fail to see that it is the conditions of the water which is having the greatest impact on our speed. The wind creates waves and the wave energy works against the energy we exert to move the boat ahead. It is important to remember that water is nearly 1000x denser than air! In poor conditions, wave energy impacts on our oars as we take a stroke. The choppier the conditions the more wave energy we have to fight against. With a conventional oar, we bury the oar into the water but we encounter waves hitting the oar shaft during the stroke, making it even harder to pull. The stronger the waves the harder it is to work against them.

However, with a Randall Foil, the oar is not buried deep in the water and less wave energy is working against the oar. Although more shaft and the extra surface area of the foil is exposed to the wind, more importantly, less shaft is affected by the energy of the waves.

It has been found that in turbulent swell or rogue wave events that rowing with a Randall Foil enable the rower to keep in control of their oars as they are stabilised relative to the surface of the water. With a conventional oar, it is impossible to maintain a relative position to a changing water surface, and waves can swamp an oar during the stroke. Yet with a Foil, the oar always remains at the surface and the rower knows exactly where their oar is in relation to the surface. It is for this reason that Foils are now used on Atlantic sea races.

5. The Recovery and the Randall Foil

When the blade is released from the water with both a tap down of the hands and feathering of the oar, water sheds off the blade. A conventional oar, when drawn up from the depths, will have a large wetted area and water trailing off the shaft and blade. Yet with a foil, water spirals off the blade alone and the shaft shows little to no evidence of contact with the water. In the era of ultra-light materials, the slight added weight of the foil is initially noticed and some wind resistance is felt. When rowing in a tailwind, the blades are traveling in the same direction as the waves, some extra blade height (lower hands in the boat) is required to keep the foils from contacting the waves. This assists in minimising the slowing effect of oar/water contact on the recovery. After a time of rowing with foils, any rower becomes accustomed to the feel and will be able to adjust to varied conditions, just as they would need to with ordinary blades. The performance characteristics both during the drive and on the recovery vary from conventional oars and foils so becoming accustomed to new equipment does take a time investment.

6. Balance and the Randall Foil

With a high centre of gravity, the tight-rope-walker edges their way over the ravine, each step tempting fate. Likewise, the rower clutches their oars to prevent capsizing. Without the oars, there is simply no way for a rower to maintain the balance of a rowing shell, regardless of the level of mastery. However, when the boat is still, when oars are feathered and flat on the water a confident balance is maintained. A moving boat, swaying rowers with swivelling oars is another matter as there is little stability and the boat is precariously balanced. The rower needs to find harmony between pulling with maximum effort at the same time as balancing the boat with their body position and oar heights. The more focused the rower is on balance, the less effort they can apply. Years of training is required to confidently balance and exert full force on the oar. To offer some stability to the rower during the stroke, oars are slightly angled or pitched so when pulled some downward force is created. However, this oar pitch comes at a cost, as this downward energy does not contribute to the forward momentum of the boat. The more advanced crews pitch their oars to a lesser degree, but it is a degree and an energy cost which they must pay to ensure stability. There are few crews that have the confidence and skill to row with no oar pitch.

When a rower pulls against an oar with a Randall foil, the hydrodynamics of the foil creates upward lift, instant stability and removes the need for any oar pitch. This results in athletes having the balance, stability and confidence to row with full power. The removal of oar pitch means that all force is transferred into forward momentum. There are now implications for boat builders who can push the limits with hull sizes. When a crew is using foils they can row a much narrower and more "unstable" boat, leading to even greater speeds.

7. Racing and the Randall foil

Elite crews can row fast. They apply years of training, precise technique and state of the art equipment to peak racing speeds. But it is not the crew with the top recorded speed who wins the race but the crew who slows down the least over the duration of the distance. It is rare that the crew leading after 250m is the first to cross the line at 2000m and the crew who takes the less bad strokes wind. The Randall foil aids crews to be more efficient and make each stroke count ensuring that they can perform at the peak for each stroke.

May the Randall Foil help you on your own rowing journey.

Ian Randall

Friday, 21 February 2020

Full unedited Interview with Matt Brigham, Matt Paul and Aram Lemmerer

For those interested in a full technical and detailed discussion on rating, slip, gearing and the Olympics. 


YouTube - Aram Trainning

Monday, 20 January 2020

High Performance Testing with Ollie Zeidler

I wish to thank World Champion Ollie Zeidler for assisting in high-performance testing of RANDALLfoils. This was the first time we have had the opportunity to work with an athlete like Ollie and to study the performance of the foil under extreme strength and power conditions. We are continuing to learn more about the design and rigging optimisation for the highest elite levels.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Matt Brigham Leeds University BC

Congratulations to Matt Brigham of Leeds University for selection to the GB Olympic squad. Matt and the START program are testing the performance capabilities of the RANDALLfoil. The slow-motion video below shows the lock and hold of the foil during the stroke.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Crossing the Atlantic with RANDALLfoils


Dominic Schaub and Florian Ramp will take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019, the "World's Toughest Row." Together, we are Team Atventure (= Atlantic Adventure). On the 12th of December we will start our row on the Canary Islands.

Follow their journey
Track Atventure's progress

Friday, 15 November 2019

Can RANDALLfoils improve head-racing results?

I have been testing RANDALLfoils since the summer of 2018. During this time, I have rowed over 2000 km with the foils and used them in 5 head-race regattas, 4 sprint-race regattas and in one marathon (Boston Rowing Marathon). While I have documented performance gains of the foils in sprint races (, measuring performance gains in longer races has remained elusive until now.

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.

Bob Symonds
You can contact Bob to inquire further about his experiences with foils and can purchase directly from him. [email...

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Fire, Ice, and Physics : The Science of Game of Thrones by Dr. Rebecca C. Thompson

[on oars]

"For his war galleys, Stannis chose a different method of propulsion, one no less dependent on shape: rowing. The physics of rowing is pretty straightforward, so the speak. It's a simple lever action. When the rower pulls back on the handle, the oar blade is pushed against the water. Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the ship is pushed forward a little bit. When 100 people are doing this simultaneously in choreographed synchrony, the ship can get going quite quickly.

The shape and size of the oar blade is important in getting the most out of each stroke. The larger the blade, the more power it can generate, and that power combined with the force the rower provides to the lever of the oar is what moves the ship forward. This is a tricky balance to maintain, however - you need someone strong enough to generate that kind of power, and you want the largest oar your rowers can handle efficiently. If there's too much surface area, the ship might move quickly for a short time, but the rowers will tire sooner. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

The shape of the oar is also important in getting the maximal speed out of each stroke. Traditional oars, the type that Stannis’s ships would have used, are symmetrical. The blade looks the same on each side of the shaft. In 1991, former Olympic rower Dick Dreissigacker and his brother Pete designed the cleaver oar. A main drawback to the symmetrical, or tulip, oar was the drag caused by the shaft. With a tulip oar it is impossible to get the entire blade in the water without also dunking in a lot of the shaft. The shaft then drags through the water without proving any real forward motion to the ship. With the cleaver oar, the shaft is attached to the top with the entire blade hanging down. This way the blade can go in the water without much of the shaft having to drag though the water. It seemed like an obvious solution after someone else thought of it. 

More recently, an Australian rower named Ian Randall developed yet another oar design: the Randall Foil. This oar adds a small lip to the top of a cleaver oar in the direction of oar movement, allowing the oar to make full contact with the water without having to dip the shaft in. In addition, it catches the water that normally flows over the top of the oar causing turbulence. Independent studies found that these oars can increase a boat’s speed by around 5%. I bet Gendry’s wishing he had a pair of those." (P.221)

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Towards Tokyo 2020

Kanji : Rowing

After the success of Martino Goretti (ITA) at the 2019 World Championships, we have been in discussions with many athletes, coaches and National teams seeking to utilize the performance benefits of the RANDALLfoil.

We wish to offer our assistance to all teams, for the purpose of this design project has always been to progress the sport of rowing.

Five Key Essentials for adopting RANDALLfoils

- Securely attach foils with fiberglass resin or professional grade adhesive.
- Pitch Oarlock at Zero-degrees (pins also set at zero)
- Raise Oarlocks one or two washers to maintain existing hand heights
- Reduce Oar outboard to accommodate athlete strength capacity
- Practice soft catches with direct horizontal force connections

Note : NK Empower and Peach systems are not compatible as they will not accommodate the required pitch adjustments. 

Feel free to make contact with Aram Lemmerer, Ian Randall or your local distributor for further assistance.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

GrĂ¼ner Moselpokal 2019

Congratulations to Berthold Weitkemper for winning the 4k race, rowing with RANDALLfoils.

Race Report : There were strong crosswinds and it was difficult to generate clean strokes. The foils helped me to manage a clean catch every stroke and to find my rhythm quickly. Passing the turning point and during last 2k upstream and headwind I had to work pretty Martino Goretti said in his interview with Aram Lemmerer : "if you want to be faster you´ve to feel it harder". I could overtake one rival and at the end finished with 1:10 difference to my next opponent...17:35...pretty close to some 2X masters B.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

World Masters Champions use RANDALLfoils

Congratulations to Petr Mitas (World Champion - Grade B),  David Harralson and Don Tanhauser (World Champions - Grade J). Extraordinary results from inspiring rowers who will always be World Champions.

Friday, 30 August 2019

"Now I cry" - Martino Goretti (ITA), World Champion ML1X

The words of Martino Goretti after winning the 2019 World Championships Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls – A-Final

“Now I cry. I said before this regatta that this would be my last world champs. Now I am old enough to quit. When the LM4- was canceled I lost my Olympic dream. I thought the sport was no longer for me, then I discovered rowing in the single and realized I could still enjoy it.”

Watch all of Martino's races here

Aram Lemmerer with Martino Goretti

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

It's never easy

Congratulations Martino Goretti (ITA) for the fastest time in the Quarter Finals.

Martino said to the race commentators that he is using RANDALLfoils to get the 'feel' of a solid catch and for that extra hold. The foils really helped him make the change from sweep to sculling giving a similar feel through the water.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Martino Goretti uses the RANDALLfoil at the World Championships

The Italian Olympic single sculler Martino Goretti becomes the first 'elite' to use the RANDALLfoil design at an international regatta. On the first day of the World Championships, Martino came 1st in his heat by 40 meters with the fastest time of the day.

Martino has been training with the design since the European Rowing Championships and gaining Italian national selection using the RANDALLfoil. During the qualifying race, Martino had a clear lead at 500m and held his position with a winning margin of two boat lengths.

"I really don't understand why the rowing world has been so slow to adopt the design? This thing, in my opinion, is really game-changing" Martino Goretti

Like all top athletes, Martino's true performance comes from something deep within himself formed from years of struggle and sacrifice. A strip of plastic can add nothing to this.

Martino Goretti trialing the RANDALLfoil

Martino Goretti winning the Italian qualifying regatta using the RANDALLfoil.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Four Gold at the US Nation Masters for David Harralson

Congratulations to US National Masters Champion David Harralson, 79, winning 4 Gold's last weekend. David continues to row at the highest levels with years of training, experience and service to his club Casitas RC. "Rowing is a life-long endeavor." David has been rowing and racing with RANDALLfoils for over two years now. (Image of David at 2018 Nationals)

You can watch a brief interview with David here

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Rule 40 - "Innovation"

When FISA considered the legality of the RANDALLfoil it needed to consult Rule 40.

Any novel equipment design needs to be submitted to FISA to determine if it conforms to the laws of rowing. If the new design conforms, it is considered NOT to challenging Rule 40 and is declared NOT to be an innovation. According to Rule 40, anything actually considered to be an innovation would NOT be permitted in the sport of rowing.

The use of the word 'innovation' has a particular legal understanding within the context of the FISA Rule Book. There are many unique designs which we would commonly consider to be 'innovative' but as they conform to existing laws they are determined by FISA not to be so. For example, the use of new materials, boat shapes, rigger positioning, blade and shaft designs we do consider to be innovations, however, as they are 'legal' they are not considered innovations by FISA.

If however, the FISA Equipment Committee did declare a novel design to be an "innovation" the design must then go before the full Executive Committee for further scrutiny. If considered to change the nature of the sport, the innovation will not be permitted. However, when a determined innovation is then accepted by the Executive it must then have a full 12 months of commercial availability before use at competitions.

We were thankful, and very relieved, when FISA Equipment Committee gave their determination that the foil design was not considered an innovation.

Long live innovation and those who possess that spirit of enquiry to push the boundaries of design within the rules of our sport.

Thursday, 25 July 2019


The best of luck to all athletes who have been working with Aram Lemmerer and myself in preparing their equipment for the upcoming World Rowing Championships. 

To answer a commonly asked question ... 

RANDALLfoils are officially permitted to be used at the 2019 World Rowing Championships.

1st August 2018, FISA Equipment Commission determined the RANDALLfoil conformed to all current laws of oar design and are permitted for use at all FISA sanctioned events. Click to view FISA ruling

The design was subsequently presented to the rowing community at the FISA Coaching, Sports Science and Medicine Conference, Berlin. 

RANDALLfoils will be made available during the World Championships at the Nelo Racing commercial stand with a fitting service available.

Click to view full documentation

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Good Luck Vero Beach Rowing Club

Vero Beach Rowing Club have begun to adopt RANDALLfoils for their junior rowing training program. I wish them the very best for the U23 World Rowing Championships and look forward to seeing their progress, both now and into the future.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Poor conditions continue to upset elites

Rotterdam, Netherlands, upset many best performances with top scullers like Olli Zeidler missing out on A Final qualification. This is a screenshot at the start of the Men's 1x, Sverri NIELSEN using standard blades nearly capsizes.

RANDALLfoils have been shown to out-perform standard equipment, especially in poor conditions.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

US Masters Rep - Bob Symonds

Karen and Bob Symonds with RANDALLfoil blades at the Boston Marathon
I would like to welcome US Masters rower Bob Symonds to the RANDALLfoil team.

Bob is a sixty-year-old Masters rower who embraces the mantra: faster, stronger, older. He competes both nationally and internationally in a wide variety of races from sprints on up to marathons. He is highly competitive in the single but becomes a powerhouse when joined by his wife, Karen, in the double scull. While he has won over sixty medals, he strives to improve every year, a quest that ultimately led him to join our team.

Bob was one of the first to trial and race with the foil design and he has written many reviews on rowing forums in defense of its performance characteristics. He only started rowing a decade ago, but as a former competitive long-distance runner, he quickly got in shape to row. At the same time, he knew that his on-water performance lagged his fitness. So he used his background as a research geochemist and hydrologist to begin a long journey to row better and faster. His path led him to RANDALLfoil's. It has been a pleasure to work with Bob since the discovery of the foil design and to have such a committed representative of the design on the team is such a bonus.

Bob will be our lead distributor to Masters rowers in the States and will look after the Midwest region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, and Louisiana).

You can reach Bob by email: 

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Unlike any other

The first couple of strokes with the foils was a remarkable experience. There is such grip and stability in the water it feels like you're in a quad. After a couple minutes your body adapts and you forget they are even there. Your shoulders relax at the catch because you have the confidence the blade will catch and stay planted. It feels like rowing should feel. As soon as the blade drops in the water you are able to notice the boat levering past the blade. Though there is still some slip the send in the second half of the stroke in unlike any other set up I've felt. Where I noticed the biggest difference, however, was when I traveled to a different club, and rowed a different single. I immediately felt a lack of stability, my stroke was less powerful and my posture was tighter. The best compliment I can give is 'try rowing without them, it will never be the same'.

I have also taken a few videos. In reviewing them, I noticed my catches were not as sharp as I like (sorry, it was the end practice) - I'm happy to reshoot them if you would like me to. Or even take a few videos at race pace.

Here are the videos.

One stroke - shows the water loading up on the blade

Same angle but a few strokes

A different angle

Chris Zulinov,
Equipment Manager,
Halifax Rowing Club

Sunday, 7 July 2019

More issues with standard blades at Henley Royal Regatta

Standard blades offer very little vertical control and can easily crab, dive or washout. The reality of racing in the real world is that open water offers no promise of smooth or controlled race conditions and experienced world-class athletes continue to be let down by current oar design.

RANDALLfoil blades offer superior control and performance in all conditions when compared to standard oars. Don't let 'standards' limit your performance!

Henley Commentators ... oar shaft drag

During the final of the Fawley Challenge Cup the commentators were explaining the negative effect of rowers digging oars too deeply. RANDALLfoils were specifically designed to eliminate oar shaft drag to improve oar efficiency and increase boat speed.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Elites taking note

Many thanks to Sean Heaney, Irish International Representative, for his endorsement of RANDALLfoils.