Nowadays, as you know, almost every builder of racing shells around the world can offer a customized boat for a buyer’s special needs. It does not matter whether it is a club, a college, or a national federation, a buyer can, for example, choose if the coxswain should be steering on a seat in the stern (stern-coxed) or lying down in the bow (bow-coxed) of an eight. To easier transport the shell on a trailer, one can order a boat that can be divided in the middle, or even in three or more sections. It is even possible to order one-seat sections and that way put together a four, six, or eight. Around ten years ago, the Swiss boat maker Stämpfli built a boat for 24 rowers or scullers. The boat, which still exists, is known as the Stämpfli Express, or Stämpfli 24.
The well-reputed French rowing magazine Le Bateau d’Aviron pour les Fous revealed just the other day, that the new French boat builder Puan T. Fromage, outside the town of Lyon, has developed a “flexible” shell for 50 rowers, called “Quinquaginta”. With this new boat it will be easier for those clubs that are operating on narrow rivers with plenty of sharp bends to allow their oarsmen to get the training they need.
However, as always when it comes to rowing, nothing is new under the sun. This “new” invention is more than one hundred years old! Already in July 1888, the British magazine Punch published a picture of “a new flexible, patent-jointed, vertebral outrigger” – “The Centipede”.