News and Views from Rowbust: rowing, garment and fabric tips, local manufacturing in Melbourne.

Avril Bastiansz - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The St George Rowing Club announced on 21st April 2014 that they will be supporting a crew of disabled athletes, Para-Rowers, to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) in Boston in October 2014.  The crew will be racing in the Leg, Trunk and Arms (LTA) category.  LTA rowers are able to use a sliding seat in a boat, just like an able-bodied rower. 

The crew got some VERY VERY EXCITING news on Tuesday 20th May when they received email confirmation that the Head Of The Charles Regatta committee had approved their application as an international crew in the LTA Mixed 4+ race.  While it is still necessary to complete the normal entry procedures, the crews entry has been guaranteed. This is VERY EXCITING and they are definitely GOING to Boston.


So who are the S.M.A.R.T Rowing International Challenge 2014 team members:

Carol Cooke (LTA - Physical Disability)
Steve Knott (LTA - Physical Disability)
Pete Siri (LTA - Physical Disability)
Sara Waitzer (LTA - Visual Impairment)
Mia MacMahon (Coxswain)
Alistair Chong (LTA - Physical Disability) - male reserve
Adrian Henning (Coach and Team Manager)
Stephen Irons (Coach and St George Rowing Club President)

The team comprises of rowers with varying ranges of rowing experience.  The team are aware of the hard work ahead of them and the training required to enter this regatta, but they are very much looking forward to training & having fun together as this journey unfolds over the coming months.

The crew with coaches will travel to Boston to challenge in the 50th Head of the Charles Regatta.  Along with being the 50th year of the Regatta, it is also the 5th year that Para-rowing events have been included in the event.  The team will leave Sydney on Monday 13th October and will race on Sunday 19th October 2014.  This will give them sufficient time to acclimatise and have at least 3 to 4 training sessions on the water, rowing the course that they will be racing on.  The team will also be training together monthly in Sydney, which will give supporters the opportunity to meet the crew and maybe even see them in action on the water. 

The estimated cost to support the challenge is approximately A$55,000.  This will cover the full costs of domestic training/preparation and international travel, accommodation & meals, regatta entry fees, boat hire costs etc.  The team will be undertaking fundraising activities and are looking for corporate sponsors as well. We hope that you are able to support the crew & the challenge in some small way.

We welcome you to please follow us on:
twitter - @SmartRowing
Facebook -

For more information about the event or the Para-rowing program at Wolli Creek please contact: or call Adrian Henning on 0406 729 048
Avril Bastiansz - Saturday, April 26, 2014

Over the last couple of months we have been working on the Silver Oars range and in a couple of weeks we'll be launching our latest range of Silver Oars Tights, Second Skin tops and our much loved Silver Oars Suit.  In this blog, I hope to give you an update on where things are at and what you can expect in this latest range.

Second Skin

Many of the rowers I have been talking to at regattas have mentioned that they need a training top that offers protection from the Sun, but doesn't get too hot. As I have written in previous blogs; thinner garments are for summer workouts and thicker garments for winter.  

The Second Skin long sleeve tops are the perfect choice to be worn under your rowing suit both in the summer for UV protection and winter for layered warmth.

We have now started to better distinguish the winter and summer garments by incorporating different fabrics to suit the different seasons; a winter weight and summer weight.

Over the summer we looked at the anatomy of a rower's body and watched how their body moved through the stroke.  In the summer weight design, we have updated the top to make it more comfortable.  The side seams have been moved from the back to the front; and the sleeve seams have been changed to wrap around the arm from top to bottom.  Overall this will eliminate any chance of irritation from the seam rubbing against your body.

Silver Oars Tights

For the Tights we have completed remodelled the fit, incorporated a bioliner/anti-microbial fabric through the crotch and adjusted some gusset panels to make the tights fit better and feel great.

Silver Oars Suit

We are now designing the fifth edition of the Silver Oars Suit.  Still in progress, we have been investigating the next generation of fabrics available to get the best fit for rowing garments.  Rowers are looking for rowing suits that have better breathability and super light, and the fabric choice is a major part of delivering these features.

The new suit will also feature ventilation panels and changed seam locations to make it easier to get into and out of the suit.

We hope that this has given you into the design process and research and development at Rowbust and if you have any questions we'd love to hear from you.


Don't forget that you can see all of the latest Silver Oars suits at the Australian Masters Rowing Championships in Adelaide from Thursday 1st May to Sunday 4th of May.  

Avril Bastiansz - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Fresh rowing fashion! Our latest Chicks with Sticks products are now online and feature a fresh look in fluro/block colours and trendy new designs.

Our well loved Chicks with Sticks brand logo has had a makeover with a pixelated love heart and our signature 3 rowing chicks. The inspiration for this years range has mainly come from Katherine Russo, our newest team member and Product Developer and from Katherine Russomany other sources like Pinterest and Retail where we watch out for what’s trending in sportswear and activewear around the world. Our theme for this range is : LOVE Rowing, LOVE Chicks with Sticks - Train in COLOUR!

The fabrics are lightweight Lycra perfectly suited to the sport of rowing, the designs are flattering and well suited for our young rowers, shorter shorts and crop tops with cutaway seams. You don’t have to look daggy whilst training anymore - throw out those threadbare, well washed and worn out training gear and spruce up your training wardrobe and routine with these new designs.

All our products are designed and made at our factory in Melbourne incorporating our ideas and also through consultation and feedback from young rowers.We have had overwhelming positive feedback from our fit models and Product Ambassadors, Jazz and Majella Jones whose pictures you will find in this blog as well as on our website at

We will be selling our new products at the Rowbust merchandise store at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta in Penrith from the 23 - 30 March 2014.

Avril Bastiansz - Friday, January 24, 2014

Rowbust has been continuously redeveloping the Silver Oars premium rowing range since it was first launched in 2009. The Silver Oars Mark 1 rowing suit changed the traditional fabrics and design lines rowers wore. The next evolution brought more innovation including chafe-reducing seam placements, fabric refinement, and functional extras.

Silver Oars Technical SuitThe team at Rowbust are set to produce the next range of exciting products in 2014. Without giving too much away, Rowbust are using the 3F garment methodology (Fabric, Fit, Function) to improve the Silver Oars range. Across all the garments, the placement of seams is being reconsidered to further test chafing and assess fabric panels. Rowbust garment technicians have been determining if the fabric pieces provide adequate stretch and whether they are suitable for different climates. For rowers that means how it will affect the performance and comfort when you are wearing it.

Rowbust are also looking at re-engineering the finish of the seams – how much they are raised off the fabric affects how it looks and feels. The team has compared the seams in rowing garments against those designed for other sports to determine if there are benefits that might be incorporated.

Rowbust reconsiders fabrics in an ongoing manner as it is critical that it is suitable for Australia’s extreme climate differences. The same density and type of fabric used for suits in Tasmania isn’t appropriate for a Queensland summer – we review this continuously as well as seeking out new fabrics available for sportswear.

Please feel free to send us any questions you might have and we look forward to bringing our innovative range to rowers this year.

Katherine from our design team digitising patterns with our Gerber Digitiser

Avril Bastiansz - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Like purchasing all specialised garments - suits for a wedding, space suits or even running shoes - choosing a rowing suit has a range of questions you should ask to ensure that you are happy with your new purchase. A well made rowing suit should last between two and five years. Just like the different factors that contribute to success in a race, there are a number of factors that determine the number of training sessions and regattas that a rower could expect from a suit.

Material Quality

Rowing apparel and in particular rowing suits have come a long way since they were made from knitted wool and poly cotton fabrics. Sports garments are increasingly specialised and rowing suits are no different. Rowing suits aren’t triathlon suits nor are they wetsuits. Each uses different fabrics that help with the particular sport and the specific athlete movements. 

Today, rowers have a wide choice of fabrics. Polycotton Lycra was the dominant choice until the end of the 20th century. However, fabrics containing cotton are not the best for garments involved in water oriented sports. Rowers tend to get wet whilst rowing and fabrics that stay wet will feel uncomfortable and heavy due to the absorption of water.

Properties have been added to fabric that help keep the rower comfortable by drawing away sweat from the body whilst keeping as much water out as possible - this is known as wicking or the more commonly branded ‘dri fit’.

The most important factor when choosing a fabric for a rowing suit will be the quality and composition of the Lycra. Although there are many generic substitutes in the market, choosing a fabric containing genuine Lycra yarn is the ‘’essential ingredient’. This could be the difference between a rowing suit that lasts 200 or 20 washes!

When considering a fabric for a rowing suit, I start with a fabric that has wicking properties. The latest technical fabrics have this and are also able to moderate body temperature and release heat. This is particularly important given rowers tend to build up body heat rapidly.

Various other fabric considerations are:

-     Density of the yarn will determine the degree of stretch and ‘oomph’ Lycra quality and how it is knitted will affect its ability to compress and retain its memory (the ability to hold its shape without sagging or bagging).


-     The shine and handle of the fabric; its best not to be too shiny or slippery, too thin, too thick, thin in some areas and thick in others (to give those glutes extra padding)


-     The weight of the fabric, also known as GSM (gram per square meter). I like to choose a fabric between 240 & 260 gsm for cooler climates, and between 220 & 240 gsm where it is hotter.


-     Standards apply to all fabrics and garments that are Made in Australia. Quality fabrics have a high degree of colour fastness (the die in the fabric won't bleed or run into each other) and this should be clarified when purchasing a rowing suit.


A good fitting suit will be firm on the wearer but not too tight. It won't impede circulation or rub or pull. A bit of compression is a good thing as it feels great and is flattering to most people! A good rowing suit through its design will avoid discomfort and low-grade injuries (chafing, blistering).

Seam placement is critical to good design. Thick, bulky seams and stitching in the wrong places can cause irritation. For rowers this might be directly under the arms, the seam separating the upper and lower parts of the garment, or stitching that runs between the legs.

It is important when trying on a suit to note where the leg (seam) finishes. Ideally the suit should finish midway up the thigh so that it neither rides up, nor drags under the slide. This changes with the trends in the fashion world! 

We recommend making the small investment where a suit has the option of a double-seat (more fabric sewn into the rear of the garment) as it makes for more comfortable rowing. When choosing a performance suit, the lighter and more comfortable the better !

Mens and Womens suits differ in shape. The key differences are for men, the cut in the armholes are a lot deeper, and for women, the hips are more shapely and have more room.

General garment construction quality

A good way to test the quality of a rowing suit is to pull it apart to check its elasticity. This will provide some insight into both the fabric and sewing quality. In our own quality assurance processes, we check how the sewing has been done under the arms and around the neck. Generally if a suit is going to come apart, this is where the stitching will fail.


Stretch of a Rowing Suit

A better garment will have rubber/elastic sewn into both the neck and arms to give it more elasticity which ensures you can get into into the suit from the neckline. This requires strong seams and elastic finish - without it, the suit will stretch out of shape. 

There are several ways to finish off the rowing suit around the neck and armholes with the design and personal preference determining this. I often make a recommendation based on the design of the suit. 

The ‘little’ factors in garment construction to consider include the quality of the thread, whether the same thread is used for necklines, armholes and hems, and the type of stitching used. Well made rowing suit will have all the small bits of cotton neatly trimmed off and although that doesn't help directly with rowing, it is a sign of the quality that was put into the garment - everything done well.

Proper Care

Rowbust Care Label

From our experiences, the best made suits in the world won't last unless they are well cared for. Three rules universally apply for rowing suit care:

1.     Read and follow the instructions on the label

2.     To wash, rinse in cold water

3.     Hang it on a clothesline; never put a rowing suit in the dryer

I always tell my customers that a good rowing suit should be cared for in a similar manner to a high quality swimsuit - rinse immediately after wear under cold running water and line dry in the shade.



A well made rowing suit looks and feels great. Our view at Rowbust is that the benefits other sports have enjoyed in advances in garment technology, particularly swimming, can transfer to rowing.

A suit may look good, have a great design, and come well packaged, but if these factors are not considered it may not live up to your expectations. The key to choosing a great rowing suit is buying well and looking after it - a quality rowing suit should help you row comfortably in the wet, hot, dry or cold and last at least 200 washes!

For more information on rowing suits, please get in touch with me: