Rowing shoe solutions to allow rapid changing of shoes in a rowing boat

Rowing shoe solutions to allow rapid changing of shoes in a rowing boat
26 February 2024 John Truswell

The Problem :

The standard shoe size for women’s squads boats in a club is often a UK 8 or 9 and the mens boats often have size 12 or 13 . Juniors at J11 are given size 8 shoes and older juniors the same sizes as the adults . Neither of those solutions allows for the rower with size 17 feet or size 4 or a J11 with size 12 shoes !  The recreational squads often boat mixed crews with a range of shoe sizes from size  4 to 14. Those rowers with size 4 feet , who are  expected to row with size 14 shoes often just put their trainers into the large shoe and hope for the best but it isnt ideal. Rowers with size 14 feet and larger are often frustrated by the lack of shoes of the correct size they can use in any club boat . 

The Potential Solutions 

There have been several solutions designed for a Quick Release System.

Shimano developed a version derived from cycle pedal cleats  and gained FISA permission to use them without   heel restraints . The solution doesnt suit everyone and the scullers and rowers  have to be sure they can detach the shoe from the fixing clip in the event of a capsize. The main advantage is not having to wear trainers before getting into a boat  and not having to install heel restraints  

Bat Logic developed a system with a foot plate and shoe attachment . These are made from a high grade plastic and clip into place on the foot stretcher .  That allows a rapid change of shoes. The shoe plate needs to be connected to the shoe or the rower can get  false feedback as their heel hots the plate rather than the stretcher .  The heel restraint needs to be adjusted but we will cover the solution to that later  in the article

Rowers can use their own Rowing shoes in any boat or ergo

Bont , better known for elite cycling shoes in addition to rowing shoes ,  developed a twist and click Quick Release Mechanism which is lightweight and well engineered . Clubs gave  feedback that it wasnt suitable for all makes of rowing shoe  and Bont  have now  developed a new version in 2024  , the  QRS24 where the shoe slides into the stretcher fitting . This is a more logical solution from our viewpoint  and we are receiving good feedback . 

   Bont QRS in action with Bont PBR2 shoes being fitted into a Nelo single scull – YouTube

Short video of the previous  twist and click QRS 

Bont Quick Release System (QRS) How to install -Twist click and row in a few seconds (

Longer version filmed near Brisbane in a Nelo single scull 

Spare Sets of Shoes Mounted On  Footplates 

Some clubs have decided to buy spare sets of footplates for their boats. If a particular eight is shared use between lightweight men and the women’s squads or male juniors  and women’s squads for example ,  the solution is to mount the sets of shoes on another footplate and change the footplate with the shoes as the crew changes . That means every rower needs to have the correct tools to remove and replace the foot plate with the shoes  before or after the outing  and also change the heel restraint length for the  safe measurement . The advantage is simplicity of design but the disadvantage is time to change the footplates with the shoes  and the fact that not all footplates and stretchers are the same width or have the same hole fixing layout so it works best for a single shared boat 

Heel restraints 

Heel restraints are essential for safe rowing unless  a FISA  approved QRS system is used as mentioned earlier . The heel restraints need to be adjusted to allow a maximum  gap of  7 cm between the heel and the stretcher under FISA rules . The heel mustn’t be able to rise above the level of the ball of the foot  .   British Rowing recommends a maximum 5 cm gap  and many umpires who conduct the safety checks use a credit card sized measure at 5cm as a guide. 

Tying and untying heel restraints to achieve the correct gap is a challenge  . Different styles of knots are used by rowers,  coaches and boatmen  often leads to knots that are hard to untie .  This wastes time on the water and leads to frustration and incorrectly fitted heel restraints, 

One very good  solution is made by Bont and sold by Rowing Shoes UK  to use a heel restraint that is permanently mounted in the boat with a carabiner clip and a series of loops tied in the cord. This allows the carabiner to be looped through the heel restraint attachment on the shoe and clipped to the optimum length using the best loop to achieve the 5cm gap . 

The cord is made from Dyneema which is resistant to damage by water and is used for high performance sailing boats and  large kites. The breaking strain is often in excess of  600kg for s diameter of 1 or 2mm  .  


There are effective and reasonably priced solutions to allow the rapid adjustment of heel restraints . These are very useful if one of the Quick Release Systems is used in the boat to give rowers a more  comfortable rowing experiance . 

Please have a look at the products section for Adjustable Heel Tie Clips 

Adjustable Heel Tie Clips – Rowing Shoes UK

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