Empacher are known for the quality (and price!) of their boats with a no compromise attitude to the way they build their boats. So when it came to finding the best shoe to put in their boats they chose Against rowing shoes. Founded by Davide Pojer, a passionate designer and rower, Against rowing is renowned for making the highest quality, no compromise rowing componentry.
Rowing shoes are underestimated in their importance in a boat. They form the only solid connection between the rower and the boat. Drive efficiency can be compromised by ill fitting or poorly made shoes that offer poor stability and support on the drive phase. On the recovery rowers should be looking to draw the boat up underneath them to maintain acceleration for as long as possible. As such having a shoe that supports the top of the foot as well as the bottom of the foot is paramount. Rowers spend a lot of time training and preparing for competitions and the shoe is an important aspect of their comfort and performance that is often neglected or forgotten. Finally rowers invest large sums of money in high quality composite rowing boats so it seems counter-intuitive to neglect the quality of the shoe being used.
The shoes follow in the footsteps of the traditional three strap Adidas shoes that won many Olympic Gold medals and developed the concept further with the highest possible quality materials being used. The result is a shoe that is extremely long lasting, durable and lightweight.
There are a few features of the shoes that really stand out from other brands. The shoes are hand made in Italy, by a shoe company. In addition the sole is pinned as well as glued to the upper part of the shoe. As a result while the shoes are a premium price they last for many years and form the perfect connection between the rower and the boat. The spine sole is flexible in allowing the rower to raise their heel as required as they come to the catch however the spine sole is very stiff laterally meaning they provide great support on the drive phase and are stiff when rowers need to control the rudder in coxless boats.
The heel of the shoe is well padded meaning the shoe clasps the heel firmly but is still comfortable. Importantly the heel area is malleable enough to clasp the heel when need but will allow the rower to easily remove their foot from the shoe once the safety strap is released in the event of a capsize.
The shoe features the standard hole pattern for attachment to the shoe plate meaning they will fit in any brand of boat and work well the the Batlogic quick release system. A core feature of the threads on the base of the shoe is the broad based lock nut that ensure the shoe is firmly secured and well supported at high rating to endure many hours of intense training.
The three strap securing system allows for the shoe to mould to different foot shapes and ensure that rowers with extra wide or narrow feet can experience an optimal fit which is crucial for drive effectiveness, recovery connection and comfort during long training sessions.
Ultimately rowers, whether they be elite, school aged or masters, make huge sacrifices, invest heavily in high quality boats and train very hard to perform at their best on race day. Just like boats and oars it is vital that you ensure you give yourself or your athletes the best possible opportunity with the best possible equipment. Against rowing shoes are the shoe you want your foot in on the start line.