Preview – Carl Douglas Racing Shells – Not traditional boat-building

by Howard Aiken

The modern sport of rowing is blessed with some fine boat builders around the world.  They are devoted to the sport and work hard to bring their customers the best equipment they can make. And yet – I have sat in boats with sharp slides which cut the skin on my calves, I have coxed eights with rudders the size of a credit card which simply don’t work and I have seen a blow from the tip of a passing blade open a long scar on a boat’s skin, deep enough to keep it off the water for weeks.  All of these things I have accepted as normal, because “that’s just the way things are”.  Well, let me introduce you to a boat builder who doesn’t believe “that’s just the way things are” and has built the boats to prove it.  Carl Douglas ( brings to his work an insistent focus on “fitness for purpose” and he won’t allow a product out of his workshops if it fails that test.

Carl Douglas Rowing Shells (CDRS) builds high performance singles, doubles and pairs.  His high-tech moulded wood composite shells typically have a glossy wood-grain finish but it would be wrong to call them wooden boats.  They are as stiff and as weatherproof as 100% composite boats, and they are built to win races – which they do, regularly.  Unlike 100% composite boats, a Carl Douglas shell won’t damage easily and as a result has a longer useful life.

The full article appeared in issue 3 of Row360 Magazine and can be seen here: Carl Douglas Racing Shells – not traditional boat-building. by Howard Aiken