© 2013 Ron Rantilla Rowing Systems, 30 Cutler Street #207, Warren, RI 02885
Ph:401-688-3132 email: ron@frontrower.com
FAQ's          Reviews         Articles          Drawings          Contact          Tryouts         Adaptive Rowing         Sitemap



The FrontRower™ system fits many conventional rowboats.  More on conventional rowboats here.
And our Odyssey™ brand of rowboats are designed expressly for the FrontRower system.  These beautiful wooden rowboats are available as kits, plans or finished boats. More on Odyssey rowboats here. 

The Rules of Rowing

The official FISA rules of the sport of rowing require all rowers to face backward. They also disallow any method of developing leg power other than using a sliding seat.  That's why rear-facing sliding-seat systems are standard equipment at race oriented rowing clubs.
The FrontRowerä breaks both these rules.   And the FrontRower is not designed to fit in racing type shells.  So you will not see it in elite sanctioned events.
But in some less formal races, FrontRower owners in touring type rowboats have found themselves rowing along with similar boats using conventional rigs.  It's pretty clear that the FrontRower has the advantage.  See Blackburn Challenge 22 mile open water race.
Long distance rower "Philly Joe" passing through Rhode Island on his 6,000 mile plus journey.
You can watch our movie "Rowboats for Touring" on your home DVD player. It's educational. It's fun. Show it to your friends. They will be amazed. We'll be happy to send you a free copy. DVD movie
dvd picture

Top 100 rowing sites


Philly Joe in rowboat.

Long Distance "Touring"


Most FrontRower™ owners use their row boats for enjoyable cardiovascular exercise or just "messing about".  But the FrontRower is becoming the system of choice for long distance rowing.
Some long distance journeys recently completed by FrontRower™ owners are:

·    Philly Joe Koladziejski: more than 6,000 miles along the southern and eastern coasts of the US from Texas to Maine

·       Herman Stiphout: over 400 miles along the western coast of the Sea of Cortez

·       Bill Siersdorfer: 260 mile "Texas Water Safari" human powered boat race

·       Charlie, Mathew and Ian (three 12 year old boys from the Tsimshian tribe of southeast Alaska): 156 mile "Rite of Passage" journey circumnavigating Revillagigedo Island on the coast of Alaska

You can read more about these and other FrontRower owners on  “Gently Up the Stream” Ron Rantilla's blog mostly about row boats.






The patented FrontRower™ is the only rowing system you can row hands free.  It is build exclusively by Ron Rantilla Rowing Systems in Warren, Rhode Island, USA.

Odyssey 18 rowboat
Owner built Odyssey 18 touring rowboat
Free DVD Movie

Rowing vs. Paddling


Balanced Power

Rowing with a pair of oars applies power evenly on both sides of the boat so you don't have to switch sides or use the paddle as a rudder to maintain course.

More Power, Better Exercise

Rowing using your large legs muscles lets you develop more power more easily than paddling.  And including your leg muscles makes rowing better exercise than paddling. See Rowing for Exercise.

More Control

Rowing places the oar blade farther out from the side of the boat than paddling, giving you more turning force when you need it.  This makes it easier to turn or maintain course in windy conditions.

Larger More Comfortable Boats

Rowing with a pair of oars allows the solo voyager to easily handle a larger more comfortable boat than can be handled with a single paddle.



The FrontRower™ fits many brands and models of canoes.

More on canoes as rowboats here.

3 view rowboat drawing
more drawings

Touring in a rowboat is traveling on the water for enjoyment—rather than racing or logging miles strictly as an exercise routine.


But most people don't think of using a row boat for touring, because conventional rowing is done facing backward, and this makes it impractical for the more enjoyable aspects of touring such as exploration, sight-seeing or photography. 


FrontRower Rowing System


The new FrontRower™ rowing system by Ron Rantilla is designed form the ground up for practical and comfortable touring in rowboats. You row it facing forward.  You can row it hands free, using only your legs to power and steer your boat.  Or you can add your hands for powerful full body rowing.  It has a big comfortable seat with a backrest.  The oars lift and feather automatically.


Not limited by convention or the rules of rowing, we were able to make the FrontRower™ system easier to use, more efficient and faster than conventional rear-facing sliding-seat rowing in the same boats.


The FrontRower™ gives you three ways to row your boat:

1.  Using just your hands

2.  Using just your feet

3.  Using your hands and feet together


Rowing and steering with just your feet is a luxury not offered by any other propulsion system, and it lets you use your hands for other things like using a camera, binoculars or fishing gear.


The FrontRower is so easy to use that many people who are not able to row conventionally can row quite well with it. This includes older people and people with disabilities such as arm or leg amputations. See adaptive rowing.


More on the FrontRower™here.


Rowing canoe with dog - picture
Canoes can make excellent touring rowboats.
rowboat logo
State-of-the-art forward facing rowing
Ron Rantilla rowing systems
Home               FrontRower                                    Products/Prices               Photogallery              Blog               Video
Touring type rowboats
Odyssey 16.5
Odyssey 18
Kits and plans
Canoes for rowing
Rowboat Q & A

Rowboats for Touring

A Common Misconception


It's a common belief that sliding-seat rowing is the fastest and most efficient way to propel a rowboat. The sliding seat lets you add the power of your legs.   But a lot of that power is wasted in the back and forth movement of the rower on the seat.


The inefficiency of the sliding-seat system was demonstrated in 1981 when a fixed-seat boat with sliding riggers (the overhanging structure with the oarlocks) won the Men's Singles at the World Rowing Championships in Munich. By 1983, all the Men's Singles finalists were using fixed-seat rowboats with sliding riggers. Then sliding riggers were banned from sanctioned racing.


The FrontRower uses a fixed seat with moving pedals to develop leg power. This reduces efficiency losses due to weight shifting to almost zero. Tests show the FrontRower™ to be as much as 19 per cent more efficient than a sliding seat rig in the same boat. See rowing efficiency.