Fluidesign's CEO on rowing, constructing racing shells, and EXR
Have you spotted custom rowing shells at regattas before and wondered where they’re from? Wonder no more — it’s Fluidesign, the Canadian racing shell manufacturer that is famous for its all-carbon constructions with eye-catching designs. Because we share a passion for rowing and innovation, Fluidesign and EXR entered a strategic partnership.
In this exclusive interview, Sam Roberts, CEO of Fluidesign, discusses his family ties to the Olympics, the engineering behind racing shells and the latest edition of the Head of the Charles Regatta.
Question: Sam, who introduced the sport of rowing into your life?
Answer: Considering my father, Gord Henry, was an Olympian for the Canadian rowing team, I would say he had all of the influence. I remember watching him at regattas when I was young and cheering him on as he flew by all of the competition.
Q: At what point in your life did you think “rowing is the sport I want to dedicate my life to”?
A: My brothers and I attended the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and were fortunate enough to watch a very successful Canadian rowing team win 6 medals. There were a lot of passionate supporters in attendance and the positive vibes were infectious. We met athletes like Silken Laumann who were so humble but had a fierce competitive drive on the water that really embodied the Canadian spirit.
Q: How did end up manufacturing high-performance rowing boats?
A: My father is the founder of Fluidesign and I have seen the company grow exponentially over the years because of its innovative spirit, attention to detail and focus on customer service. When my father started his own business building boats, I was so proud to see his hard work translate into success on and off the water. So I joined him in this endeavor. It was a special feeling to see Fluidesign compete internationally and know that I had a direct part in building the boats. At the time I didn’t know what my future would hold, but it’s very exciting that my career is now focused on this passionate sport.
The bow-mounted rigger is the fastest design and has now been adopted by every major rowing shell manufacturer around the world.”
Q: What makes Fluidesign shells innovative?
A: Fluidesign is the first manufacturer to popularize the bow-mounted rigger. The engineering behind this design was thoroughly tested at the Michigan University state-of-the-art water tank. Various mounting positions for the rigger were drag-tested in relation to the lift points on the shell and it was discovered that mounting the rigger behind the rower lifted the bow and decreased the wetted surface. It was the fastest design and has now been adopted by every major rowing shell manufacturer around the world.
Additionally, the construction of a Fluidesign boat is exceptional because it does not incorporate any core between the layers of carbon. We rely upon specially woven fibers that provide longitudinal stiffness and durability without compromising weight. Every boat is meticulously designed and finished with a clear coat that highlights the beauty of the carbon and reflects the engineered performance.
Q: Why did Fluidesign decide to partner up with EXR?
A: It was a unique opportunity to allow our customers to see their beautiful Fluidesign FluidMax boats in different environments that they may have not had a chance to experience in person. Recognizable courses like the Charles River, Henley and Bled make this a fully immersive app that can be shared with friends.
As winter approaches, EXR is going to be a great opportunity for people to discover a new level of enjoyment with erging indoors.
Q: How do you like the FluidMax in EXR?
A: One of the many features of a Fluidesign boat is the customization of colors and the highlighted beauty of carbon. Both are displayed within EXR. By enhancing the erging experience like this, it gives everyone an opportunity to express their individuality and passion.
Q: You attended the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) for the last 13 years. What inspires you about HOCR?
A: One of the many features of a Fluidesign boat is the customization of colors and the highlighted beauty of carbon. Both are displayed within EXR. By enhancing the erging experience like this, it gives everyone an opportunity to express their individuality and passion. I always enjoy seeing familiar faces and getting a chance to meet new customers face-to-face for the first time. It’s very uplifting when you’re beside the display boat and you hear all of the positive comments as people walk by. There’s a lot of hard work that’s put into the event each year and when our customers say that we helped them have an incredible regatta, it’s such a rewarding experience for us.
Q: Fluidesign attended HOCR with EXR this year. To be more precise, the booths were located right next to each other. How was the synergy?
A: It was a fantastic event and all of the athletes were able to get a warm-up on ergs while receiving feedback from the EXR app and watching themselves row the Charles course. It was a natural fit for both of us to have our vendor space beside each other. People could see the beautiful boat in person and then watch themselves virtually row the same boat. It was especially great when the rain hit on Saturday and athletes could practice under the tent. As winter approaches, EXR is going to be a great opportunity for people to discover a new level of enjoyment with erging indoors.
Get your own FluidMax racing shell in EXR. Just download the app and start your virtual indoor rowing adventure!