January 9, 2023

Manufacturing & Customer Service in Ocean Rowing

The challenges in achieving operational excellence

Many of the challenges we face today in the boat manufacturing industry are ones that are shared across various other businesses with a similar market requirement and customer orientation.

Firstly, we are always looking to add features and contents to our boats, and increase ergonomics aboard, without compromising performance and seaworthiness.

Secondly, we are working to improve the quality of our products and customer satisfaction for owners who benchmark our boats against other manufacturers and against more industrialized sectors such as premium cars.

Finally, we are continually striving to find greener and more sustainable solutions for our manufacturing processes and associated services.

We do all this, whilst also working to keep the business sustainable, controlling costs and investing wisely for the long term. We’re aiming to achieve operational excellence.

Delivering elegance, performance and reliability in all Rannoch boats

To meet the challenges I mentioned above, we need to combine extensive knowledge, experience and craftsmanship with technological innovation. This applies to design, materials and systems involved in the production of our boats.

From R&D right through to product development and manufacturing, we focus on measuring and validating results - from cutting cloth at the beginning of the process right through to conducting rowing trials at the end.

Rannoch RX45
The RX45 in production

From initial design to being rowed across an ocean

The whole process starts with defining the ultimate product for solo, pairs and multiple crewed rowing boats. This includes safety, elegance, performance and reliability. Our Naval Architect and I work on the design, exterior and interior ergonomics and then the Architect crunches all the numbers through the computer to calculate stability, righting moment and engineering requirements.

The next phase involves the design of the tooling and molding techniques to refine the component production which enables the product to be stylish, cost effective and light.

Suppliers contribute their expertise for the fitting out and installation of specialist systems. We have built strong working partnerships with companies who value quality and reliability. Each boat is fully fitted out and extensively tested before it leaves the factory. We “hand over” each boat to the owner and run through all the systems and often go out rowing with them to show how everything works.

Manuals, certificates and warranties are signed and given to the owner before they take the boat away.

From CAD design ...
To manufacture ...
To testing the boat on the water ...
To handing the boat over to the customers

Rannoch’s strengths as a market leader

People are key assets in the adventure industry. Working with the right skills, all our staff are specialized in what they do. Our strengths are good organization and communication amongst the team and creating of a real sense of belonging.  We carefully select suppliers to find the best and most reliable partners in the business.

From there, we strive to continually improve our knowledge and production methods to provide genuine know-how, information and help for the entire rowing community.

Whilst some of our staff actively row across oceans, myself included, we also run continual R&D programmes to find paths for potential improvement in the product. We also offer other professional service solutions to help our rowers realize their dreams in the most efficient way possible.

The Rannoch Team - key assets to our business success

Looking ahead

Ocean rowing was an unregulated, organic style of extreme adventure, started many decades ago before modern marine clothing, water makers and freeze dried food were even invented. Most boats were home built and not always safe and reliable.

That all changed with the incorporation of Rannoch Adventure in 2011. We brought experience (from a lifetime at sea including ocean rowing), expertise in boatbuilding (my forefathers were boat builders from the 1800’s) and highlighted the need for training and preparation to a small, motivated community of adventurers. We taught them how to row and survive in the worst conditions at sea and made sure they had everything they needed to endure the adventure and be safe.

Ocean rowing is now known as one of the toughest, most extreme adventure sports on the planet. Organized events attract international competitors and are often booked to capacity for the next few years. Nearly every boat that takes part in these events or undertakes an independent expedition is a Rannoch boat.

More events will open up on different routes attracting sponsored teams, and independent expeditions will continue to find new, pioneering routes to conquer. For the first time, some of our customers are now making a living from coaching ocean rowers as the sport has increased tenfold in popularity.

Other major continents are only just waking up to the possibilities and potential that the ocean rowing adventure genre offers. Rannoch will strive to continue working with all the people involved and offering the very best products and services we can achieve.

Some of the 35 Rannoch boats lined up in La Gomera at the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2022
(Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns)