What our rowers have to say about our boats

Rowing Shell: Torque

I just bought the Torque that you had down at the Florida Rowing Center this past winter. I rowed it in Florida and loved it and now that I have it in New Hampshire I am thrilled with it. I will be rowing it out of the Amoskeag Rowing Club on the Merrimack River in Hooksett, New Hampshire (about an hour north of Boston).

It is a sweet boat. Thanks for building it for me!

Submitted by: Bob C.
Rowing Shell: Torque

I have received my new boat and I am in love with it. I want to thank you for helping me decide on a Levator. Our conversation in January convinced me that Jurgen would be building a boat for me and just not selling me a boat he had built. There is a big difference between the two that we both appreciate. The aesthetics of my boat are great and certainly that is important.

Perhaps more importantly there great attention to detail—the instep, the footboard, the double hatches, the rail construction and configuration (most comfortable of any boat I have rowed and at last no graphite stained calves), and the rigger. Also, just as you promised many variations are possible for rigging. The greatest feature of the boat is how it rows. It has the same comfortable confident feeling of my Peinert 26 (which you not hear me speak ill of), but it is faster—quite a bit.

I have already taken it out in some pretty good chop and I can feel confident in my ability to row hard without worrying about flipping. One the boat's strong points is in the recovery phase of the stroke. I have all sorts of room to work with and a good recovery insures that I am set up correctly for my next stroke. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about the Torque and Levator boatworks. I have received a lot of boat for my money.

Submitted by: Alan B.
Rowing Shell: Standard Racer

I wanted to convey the joy I get from my daily rows on the Racer and thank you for your craftsmanship. Very few inanimate objects rival the pleasure I derive from tooling around in the shell.

Back in 2002 I purchased it. If you're ever in the area, let me know and we can grab a beer or some dinner. I'll probably swing by the Head of the Charles for one of the two days, merely as a spectator/shopper. Will you be there? I hope all is well and your business is prospering.

Submitted by: Bruce F.
Rowing Shell: Light

Went for the first row in the boat this afternoon for a couple of hours! I'm at loss for how to describe the feeling...For the first half of the row I was rowing poorly and digging too deep on port and shooting the seat. My port oar and shaft was about two-three inches under the water on most of my strokes. This is normal for me when I switch back to sculling left over right (I scull right over left). The port oarlock was also slightly under pitched. I am telling you this though because I was very surprised that the run and set of the boat wasn't effected. I was digging to the extent that in boats I have rowed before I would have flipped, or at least, arrested the boats momentum. I expected to flip this afternoon when I began the warm up and was rowing off, yet unlike anything I've been in before, there was a feeling of stability underneath me. Almost a recognition of I could row really really poorly and this boat would still track and run, which is terrific for those beginning to scull as well and for the juniors. That I was affecting the speed but nothing else. And here's the thing Jurgen, the speed was there. On the way out I was at 20-22. On the return, I came on at 24 at 50% max with clean bladework and felt an increase in speed even though I wasn't putting much into it. The tracking is beautiful with no unwanted movement vertically or laterally. It feels smooth. It turns on a dime!

Submitted by: Kristen T.
Rowing Shell: Light

I have now rowed the LevatorLIGHT four consecutive days, and have been cumulatively impressed with how she handles each time I row her. The integrated fin offers exceptional maneuverability along the many twists and turns of the Schuylkill. The detail where the seat tracks end is very thoughtful, as it offers protection from track marks on the legs, as well as secures the seat from derailing if it is flipped. I also love the step down area for entering and exiting the shell. This is the best designed boat I have seen, bar none. You also did a beautiful job with the aesthetic addition of the silver striping. My compliments. Thanks again.

Submitted by: B. Janet Hibbs, Bachelor Barge Club, Philadelphia, PA
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

We took the boat out today in flat morning water in the Marina. The boat is great! Both my daughters rowed and we really enjoyed ourselves. Very responsive and glides very smoothly. We had brought dry clothes just in case but no one went swimming, we balanced through wakes and it was not difficult to balance the boat. Thank you!

Thanks for a great boat

Submitted by: Caroline T. in Marina del Rey, CA.
Rowing Shell: Torque

Jurgen, Nice to talk to you today about my new boat. I'm very pleased to have it, and it rows beautiful.

Submitted by: Terry A. in Evanston, IL.
Rowing Shell: Torque

I was able to go out during lunch for the first row. It really does row great just out of the box. In just a few strokes it felt like an old friend. The wind was blowing about 20 kph (if it were in Canada) but just 12 mph down here and that was no problem.

The size of the boat seems right. It sets up nicely.

Submitted by: Alan B in Makanda, IL.
Rowing Shell: Light

My Levator Light is part rehab coach, part zen counselor and part flying machine. Yes, a 5'2" middle aged lady has a boat that fits her and they can be seen on any given moring on the Black Rock Canal and at moments appear to be flying. Thank you Levator!

Submitted by: Margot B.
Rowing Shell: Excellence

My news will be bittersweet to you, but I was able to locate, try and buy a lightweight Excellence you built in 1995. I drove to Maine on Friday and tried it – absolute love as soon as I was in it. After always rowing boats that were too big, this is like finding a shoe that fits and realizing I don't have to become used to discomfort. I also must thank you for taking the time to speak with me last wee. Hearing about the boats you build and learning about the Excellence is what gave me the confidence to get in my truck and drive to Maine.

Submitted by: Deborah L.
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

I am coming up on 400,000 meters of use on the "personal racer". No problems to report. I am still very happy with the boat. I found that I can adjust the angle of the foot stretcher. Helped out a lot. Being kinda short and squat, being able to get my body angled over helps with the catch. The small crack in the gel-coat hasn’t "grown" at all.

The boat takes heavy use really well. I don’t have to baby it, I can really "use" it, which is what I need.

Submitted by: Chuck T.
Rowing Shell: Torque

I got back last week after two long trips out of the country and have finally had some time to row the Torque. It is a joy to row and seems fast. I plan to race it in Regionals in Vancouver, WA later this month.

Submitted by: Art W.
Rowing Shell: Light

I just wanted to check in with you about the Levator Light. I picked it up on Thursday and I now have it with me in Standish. Its wonderful! I took it out this morning for the first time and had a blast. I hadn't rowed since last year and so it was quite an adventure getting back in to a shell, especially since I had mostly rowed rec-racers at Durham and had only started with the racers right at the end of the season. I think I will be okay, though, with a lot of practice and more instruction (i didn't flip, though!).

Thanks so much , I absolutely love the boat and am very, very pleased.

Submitted by: Alex C.
Rowing Shell: Torque

I thought I should drop you a note to let you know how things are going with HOLD FAST. I have been out on the lake now about a dozen times since you were here but never venturing very far from the home beach. I have always gone out early mornings and would just go about 1KM to the West and return using very short strokes to get my stability under control. Well this morning I went all out and was able to row between those two points that I showed you; roughly 10km and was able to lengthen the stroke quite a bit for a good part of the return trip. That boat moves very well and I can make it track in a fairly level way now by keeping the oars very close or even flat on the water during the recovery which I find is very helpful in staying out of trouble. I guess that is what you are supposed to do anyway but I am sure that a racer’s oars would not touch the water in that situation until arriving again at the catch position. That is fine I guess if you are doing about 30++ strokes per minute while I am just taking my time and enjoying the early morning as well as improving on a new skill. Nevertheless, I am quite happy with my little bits of progress each time I go out and I am now building a bit more confidence in the fact that if I stay focused and take my time, things will work out ok. Getting in and launching is very easy and I have been using the straddle method and once in, I can stabilize it quite well while removing my water shoes and getting my feet into the foot stretcher and getting underway.

I was thinking this morning when I was out on the water that you really did me a big favour by loaning me the other boat for a few weeks because that allowed me to develop some stability and co-ordination skills before moving to a boat that was much less forgiving. It is almost like a kid riding a tricycle before a two wheeler. Many thanks once again Jurgen for your wisdom and generosity in making that happen.

I haven’t done anything with the speed coach as yet because I have plenty else to focus on and there will be enough time for that maybe next year while I concentrate now on just becoming more proficient and trying to maintain a steady rhythm and focus.

I hope all is well with you and Grete and I guess you will be planning your fishing trip up North soon if you haven’t already gone. We are going on our Baltic Cruise that I told you about on August 19th to Sept. 3rd and really looking forward to that. I will be anxiously hoping for some good fall weather when we get back so I can get back out on the lake before Mother Nature arrives and gives us the cold shoulder once again and HOLD FAST will be holed up in the garage until next year.

Give my best regards to Grete and enjoy your usual Friday night special to end the working week.

Submitted by: Don in Cobourg, ON
Rowing Shell: Basic Racer

I wanted to first of all let you know that my Levator Basic is keeping me fit and very happy at my cottage on the Moon River in Muskoka. It handles great and is even undeterred by the waves and boat wakes on windy or busy weekends. I am delighted with it!

Submitted by: O.H., in Toronto, ON
Rowing Shell: Light

Although, launching me in the boat was a Laurel and Hardy (or a Lucy and Ethel) act in and of itself the boat is AMAZING!

We don't have a floating dock yet, but our neighbors have a nice ramp under their boathouse , so the initial maiden row was trying to get me in the boat from fairly deep water. I talked Dennis into wading neck deep in the water and pushing the boat over to the side of our bulkhead, keeping the rigger clear, removing the port oar then THANK GOD FOR THE INSTEP I was able to S T R E T C H my body over and into the boat. Then we put the oars back on and off I went.

This is the awesome part: Every time I have EVER rowed I have felt tippy for the first three minutes of 'take off'. I never realized that in spite of being in boats for lightweights, that I was still too light for the lightweight boats.

After all the hullabaloo of getting me in the boat there was not one second that I was in control of the oars that I felt even remotely 'tippy'. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!

Submitted by: E.C.
Rowing Shell: Torque

First of all: Thank you for that beautiful boat! I don't know how you did it (yes I do- you're very, very good) but it "fit" me like a glove. And was sheer pleasure to row. And fast... what normally took me 20 strokes zipped by in 15. Believe me, it's the boat, not me.

Submitted by: Susan
Rowing Shell: Basic Racer

I wanted you to know that I am totally satisfied with my 'new' single -- it's exactly what I needed. BTW, it feels very familiar -- no break in time for me! I especially appreciate your extra effort in installing the strokecoach wiring. I must admit, on my little puddle of a lake, reviewing numbers will play a big role in keeping me from getting bored!!

Submitted by: Deb K.
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

This boat is fantastic. I had a wonderful first season with it and can't wait to get back on the water this spring.

It's incredibly stable at the catch and is able to capture all my power. Each stroke feels like pulling back an arrow in a bow and letting loose. The boat flies straight and fast, making the recovery very simple. I find I am pushing myself more and more each time I use it. By the end of the season I was rowing quite fast, but I know this boat can go even faster. I am sure we will have many years ahead to grow together.

The detailing you did on the colours and taping is superb. I have a truly unique shell that stands out on the water. The bright green hull is very visible, which is important to me because my rowing course on the Ottawa River is quite busy and I need the powerboats to see me. The reflective taping further supports this end, making the hull line stand out in the sunlight and particularly at sunset. I actually have rowed this boat in the dark several times with marker lights and confidence that the party powerboats can see me. The cool blue tinted carbon-fibre decks absorb the light, making it easy on my eyes. It is a nice surface to lock my eyes on in a zen-like stare as I focus on my technique.

I am glad I upgraded the hardware. The foot stretchers are firm and after experimenting with the pitch I have a very comfortable setting. It sets up perfectly for me, better than any other racing shell I have rowed. In total this boat is very light, which I imagine is part of the reason it flies in the water. The hull design must be the other part. Everything fits together. I don't know what is most important but I love the final result.

Submitted by: Chris
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

I have rowed a variety of boats the past 24 years, including many of Levator shells. Levator's custom built Personal Racer I rowed this past summer has to be my favorite. To understand how good this boat is, you must know that I row in some of the most challenging conditions on the Ottawa River. This boat flies over smooth, flat water and cuts through the roughest of stormy whitecaps. It sets up beautifully. It's stiffness and stability ensure the best of rows everytime. And, the yellow hull with red reflective tape ensures I am easily seen by motor boaters. Essentially, this is the best all around weather rowing shell that gets me on the water more often than any other I have rowed. What good is a boat if you cannot row it in all kinds of weather? It is obvious that Jurgen understands how to build a rowing shell for all conditions.

Submitted by: John P. Gaudaur Savage
Rowing Shell: Basic Racer

I did the unthinkable today...while fully detached from reality, I drove my "Basic" up onto rocks! Yes...the bow was 2 feet higher than the stern, there was major daylight under the cockpit. My 240 lb girth was in the seat with nothing under my hull, 'neath my back side but air. And, the outcome???...nothing but a few scratches in the hull...she's fine! You build one TOUGH boat, sir!

Seriously, I "Zenned Out" while moving nicely; 2:40@23 spm. The rocks were mica laden, plenty jagged with cutting surfaces and not one drop inside. Further inspection from a qualified individual netted the same...hull OK.

Amazed,

Submitted by: Joe Kelenfy
Rowing Shell: Excellence

I have used most of the superlatives I know already describing this boat, I only have one left... PERFECT. The boat sets up wonderfully for me and is a joy out on the open water. I could not imagine a better single in the world for me to row !!! Thank you for an amazing present day rowing heirloom, I will enjoy it as long as I possibly can.

Submitted by: Bruce
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

I've rowed three times this week in my new shell and it feels great. The only thing holding me back is my conditioning, which will only improve as the season goes. Every time I see rowers pass by my dock, I want to jump back in it and head out again. The boat is a beauty and I row it with pride that comes from the way it handles and how it represents your thoughtfulness.

Submitted by: John P.
Rowing Shell: Torque

The Torque is serving me well - I row in the mornings when the wind and water cooperate. Haven’t raced it yet, but that day is coming. I get constant comments on the color scheme, as in “wow, that is a really nice looking boat”

Submitted by: John in Tulsa, OK.
Rowing Shell: Personal Racer

Jurgen, the boat is beautiful. You do gorgeous work. I hope you feel a great sense of pride from your work and find it very gratifying. The pleasure and fitness the rowers of your boats derive from them is immeasurable. You make many peoples’ lives better and I hope this makes you happy.

The boat is now well fitted to me and is rowing great. I can't say enough good about the boat, too. Again, it was quite a head turner.

Submitted by: Bob
Rowing Shell: Torque

One the most striking things that I’ve noticed is that when I row Moondance, it continues to glide after the stroke. In the old boat, it seemed that every stroke was “heavy” which I’m sure is a result of the weight. It never seemed to get to the point where I could just maintain a pace – as soon as I stopped pulling the blades the boat seemed to slow abruptly! Moondance of course does everything better and I have also been re-adjusting the height of the oarlocks to accommodate my overlap and trying to understand the “pitch” and see if I need to adjust that as well. The foot board seems right for me so far as does the position of the rigger. I will probably try other combinations as I go along just out of curiousity.

I took a mirror and flashlight the other day and looked inside the shell. One of the things I’ve learned about guitars is that you should always look inside the guitar and check how clean the construction is. It’s a sign of a caring builder. When a builder is concerned about things such as glue joints, accuracy of the cut of the braces and things like that where most people will never see them, it says a lot about their overall integrity. You are obviously a very caring builder. Moondance is beautiful inside and out. I don’t believe that I could have acquired a better shell and I’m going to do my best to wear it out.

Submitted by: Richard P.
Rowing Shell: Light

Although it was disappointing to find out about the hairline crack in my boat, I wanted to express how much I appreciated your willingness to build a new boat. I'm sure not every boat builder would have taken that initiative.

This is a boat I plan on rowing for YEARS, so I am glad to know your interest is in give me the best quality boat possible.

Thank you for your honesty and willingness to start a new boat from scratch... I think that says a lot about the integrity of your company.

Submitted by: Jennifer M.
Rowing Shell: Basic Racer

I was able to give the Basic Racer a "test drive". Quite simply...SHE'S FAST!!! I am most anxious to work on my technique. I have some improving to do but one thing is sure, the Basic will more than hold up her end of the deal. Bob Franks was most helpful with the delivery. I am totally delighted!

Thanks,

P.S. The shoes are perfect.

Submitted by: Joe K.
Rowing Shell: Torque

This e-mail has been waiting for too long. I should have done it way earlier. The boat keeps getting a lot of attention. Even in the rack hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, I have not been able to go often enough to the river. Since my technical level is rather limited and the river has been flowing too fast for me after so much rain in the area, I have been able to do only a few rowing outings. But it has slowed down and is getting right for me now. Even with my hesitation, and a certain level of anxiety, I have enjoyed every moment. The boat is so beautifully built that even looking at it gives me great pleasure. And, when I get a few good strokes together, the boat moves fast forward and feel like a pro. Only to lose the rhythm and start all over again!

Submitted by: J.P. in Richmond, Virginia