The Rowperfect was invented by Casper Rekers, whose daughter Marjolein had commenced rowing and found that the machines she was required to train on during the Dutch winter felt very different to her boat. In addition, she felt they placed extra pressure on her knees and back compared to the pressures she felt in the boat. This intrigued Casper because rowing machines had not existed when he was rowing in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went to the rowing club to try the machines himself an instantly confirmed that they indeed felt very different to a racing shell.
Over the winter of 1987-88, Cas (an engineer by profession) gradually deduced how to reproduce the dynamics of a floating shell on dry land. Casper patented his dynamic action rowing simulator in December 1988. It proved an instant success when one of Marjolein’s friends, talented lightweight sculler and trainee medical doctor Frans Göbel, happened to try the prototype, which Cas had intended to be a one-off for Marjolein’s use. Frans said “Can I have one please?” and the production of Rowperfects had begun!
Frans used the Rowperfect extensively during the 1989 season, one in which he had assumed he would be unable to compete due to his commitments as a first year graduate. In fact, for three weeks before the World Championships of that year, he was rostered to hospital duty and therefore unable to train in the boat at all. He found it worked to his advantage:
“I have never told it before, but for three weeks before the World Championships of 1989 I was unable to row in the boat, and rowed exclusively on the Rowperfect. This gave me an advantage over my competitors; because I was able hone my timing at the catch to perfection, unhindered by wind or waves.” Frans Göbel
Frans won that World Championship, and won again the following year. When Frans retired, he told his friend Peter Haining, who had placed second at Bled, about the Rowperfect. Peter went on to win three World Championships (1993-4-5)
“What do I think of the Rowperfect? It brought me three World Championships.” Peter Haining
Since then, many crews and scullers have found the Rowperfect advantage to be a crucial element of their training, from World or Olympic champions to school crews, novices and even non-rowers.
Cas receiving his silver medal from Miss Switzerland
European Championship 1961 at the Rotsee