suggestions for car topping?

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May 15, 2020, 7:47:19 PM5/15/20
Hi all - I am new here! I'm a former collegiate rower who stumbled upon a great deal on a recreational boat. I am so excited to get back into rowing I can hardly stand it! I'm a little nervous about learning to scull but am mostly just pumped. :)

HOWEVER...I have no idea what the best way to transport the boat is. I have a minivan. Any recommendations for the best thing to purchase to hold the boat on the crossbars? Do I need a rowing specific holder? Would something that is meant for kayaks be okay?

The boat is a Virus Turbo Skiff SL.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations / advice! It's much appreciated!

May 16, 2020, 2:30:47 PM5/16/20
I cartopped my single to the boathouse/river for 3 years because the waiting list for a storage rack was that long. Yes, you should have a proper boat rack, not a kayak rack. Rowing boats are much longer than a kayak, so you need something to support the extra length farther to the bow and stern. A proper rack also has fabric slings in appropriate places to support the boat without interference with structures around the cockpit. Such a rack can be attached securely to the car roof crossbars with large U-bolts. I arranged my 4 U-bolts with a nylock nut permanently on one end and a wingnut on the other end so I could easily remove just the wingnuts to take the rack off the car when not transporting the boat. You will also need some sort of bridles to secure the tips of the bow and stern to the bumpers (or thereabouts) so the wind doesn't get under the boat and try to flip it up. I also suggest you get a small 3-step folding ladder to stand on while loading an unloading the boat. A minivan is too high to just reach up there to put the boat into/out of the rack. Finally, a suggestion about the nylon straps to hold the boat on the rack and car - anywhere there will be strap exposed in the open air, put a single twist in it so that the wind cannot not start a "musical" vibration of the flat strap once you get up to speed. The symphony is not pleasant to listen to while driving.

Enjoy your new toy.

John Greenly

May 16, 2020, 8:30:53 PM5/16/20

I looked up your boat, it's interesting, with the sliding rigger! With its 22" beam and 16' length, and open stern for self-draining, I bet it will be a good open water boat, fun in rough conditions. Being only 16' long, it doesn't need a very long rack like for a racing 1x. It's more kayak-shaped. I found this company that sells the boat, and they list carrying saddles to go on a roof rack. look on this page in their list of accessories:

These are made for kayaks, and apparently they must fit your boat well. With the substantial weight of your boat, and needing to get it up on top of a van, you'll want to use the kayakers' method of lifting the bow onto the rear saddle and then lift the other end and slide the boat forward into place. That works very well, I've done it often with heavy boats, you never have to lift the whole weight.

There are probably other kayak saddles that would also work fine. A good fit is important to hold the boat safely in windy driving conditions, and ones that allow the boat to slide easily are very helpful.

hope this helps,

James HS

May 19, 2020, 2:50:35 AM5/19/20
I bought a special rack for my single . . . . .I watched all the other people arrive with a standard roof rack and bits of foam :o(

If you have a good rack with cross bars then you can tie most things to it - but obviously de-rigging to protect the roof :)

Saddles can protect the boat further and could be a good idea if they are available.

Be aware of the top speed and how you tie down to avoid oscillation of the boat.

Message has been deleted

John Greenly

May 19, 2020, 10:33:25 AM5/19/20
Kate's boat can sit upright on saddles on a roof rack so it can be carried fully rigged, doesn't need to be taken apart for carrying. This is not a single scull, it's a recreational boat, 16 feet long and 22" wide, weighing 55 pounds.



May 19, 2020, 11:08:09 AM5/19/20
To elaborate on what James says:
Whatever you do on the road, you owe a duty of care to everyone else
whose lives you may affect.

A sculling boat is not unlike a javelin - long, stiff, pointy & affected
by air currents. If insufficiently secured it can slew diagonally,
pitch with an oscillatory motion of growing amplitude or be ripped off
if the wind forces exceed the restraint capacity. Then you, &/or some
innocent person, are in deep trouble.

With something ~8 metres (or more) long, although very stiff &
remarkably strong, ensure that its points of attachment are well apart
lengthwise, & more than the typical spacing between car roof-bars. So
you need a bolted-on boat rack. These are typically 2.2 metres long (or
more), stiff, & with vee structures at each end - either with slings or
padding - to cradle the boat.

If held in padded vees, the boat should travel inverted as the deck
edges (sheers) are the hardest, stiffest part of the boat & can take the
loads. And an inverted boat won't collect rain-water or detritus.

Tie the boat firmly but not too tightly, & always with 2 ties at both
end positions. It's not necessary to tie down in the middle. With
ratchet or other webbing tape straps do _not_ overtighten. As with
rigger bolts, being strong is no reason to use bolts or tie-downs to
prove your strength! "Gently secure" is good & won't come loose; with
straps you can do lasting crush damage to any boat. Personally I avoid
webbing straps like the plague: they're surprisingly abrasive, easily
overtightened & their die-cast buckles are a pain to thread the end of
the strap though & vulnerable to fracture in use (usually after someone
had driven over them on the ground). IMO, far better are bungee cords,
in loop form - quick to attach, kind to the boat, strong & forgiving.
but always use straps or bungees in pairs.

Pitching: Your boat can oscillate for 2 reasons: a) the roof bars are
too flexible or b) its very windy (& passing a truck can mess with the
air flow). An oscillation, once started, can often grow as the further
out of line the greater the aerodynamic loads that sustain its movement,
with the potential to rip the boat off the rack.

With flexible roof bars the immediate answer to wobbliness is to mount
the rack close to the ends of the bars (tighten but don't overtighten
those bolts). And a rational precaution (sometimes mandatory) is to
also _lightly_ tie down the forward part of the boat to the front towing
eye. For this, do _not_ take the cord forward to the bow of the boat as
that not only stresses the boat & is less effective (being longer, it
stretches more), but because it won't be easily seen by a passing
cyclist or pedestrian, neither of whom wants to be garotted when
crossing in front of your stationary vehicle. So take the cord
vertically down, & have it just tight enough not to be slack. Then if
the boat starts to pitch the cord will kill the upward motion & thus
prevent sustained & amplifying oscillations.

Also check overhangs & legislation. Some national traffic regs require
a passenger if you have over certain overhang length & some others are
very prescriptive. Best to carry printed copy of the relevant
regulations as many traffic cops don't know about car-topped racing
shells. And properly flag both ends of the boat (lights at night).


Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Email: Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: & now on Facebook @ CarlDouglasRacingShells

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May 21, 2020, 9:02:29 AM5/21/20
Thanks so much!! I hadn't noticed that page before. I researched those paddles and bought some that are very similar, but more reasonably priced. I appreciate the help!!


Kit Davies

May 21, 2020, 4:48:00 PM5/21/20
On 19/05/2020 16:08, carl wrote:
> Best to carry printed copy of the relevant regulations as many traffic
> cops don't know about car-topped racing shells.

FWIW, the pertinent regulation is 82(7) of The Road Vehicles
(Construction and Use) Regulations 1986:

which refers racing shell carriers with overhangs <= 3.05m to Para 4 of
Schedule 12:

> A projection to which this paragraph applies shall be rendered
clearly visible to other persons using the road within a reasonable
distance, in the case of a forward projection, from the front thereof
or, in the case of a rearward projection, from the rear thereof and, in
either case, from either side thereof.



May 21, 2020, 8:59:35 PM5/21/20
Many thanks, Kit. And British Rowing has provided a document (don't
have the reference to it to hand) covering the relevant UK regs.

However, I believe the OP is in the USA, where rules may differ even
from State to State. So I thought it best to be more general on what
works & makes sense. Thus, if travelling within the European mainland
you may well find that no front overhang is permitted, & that being
stopped by, say, the French police for carrying an illegal roof load can
spoil the party.

Cheers -


Mar 18, 2022, 9:13:14 PMMar 18
Pardon while I resuscitate this thread with a question.

I've been car topping all kinds of boats for decades now, I've had some really excellent rigs and managed to make do with some really sketchy rigs.

I gave a 1970 wood Pocock single to a good friend of mine who had it fully restored up in Seattle and wants to drive it to Southern Cal with a good friend of ours. they have a solid lumber rack for the back of my friend's truck, and for most of the old trainers and aeros I often haul around I see no problem tying as is to the existing racks for short distances and decent weather.

For safest hauling, I insist on at LEAST 8 ft between racks for a racing hull, 10 ft even better. Ideally I like solid padded cradles at each end that hold the boat hull up and making sure the boat is canted front end of car very slightly down. This is consistent with this pocock which I want to have it cradled so the edge of the boat is secure and that the middle deck stringer isn't getting pressure on it but is in contact with the padding. For this reason, I suggested a unit they can construct themselves, I can even mail them wooden cradles I have they can bolt to the ends of a ten foot rectangle aluminum stock about 1 by 3.

Is this overkill?


Mar 19, 2022, 7:48:32 PMMar 19
Assuming a fabric deck and boat carried inverted, then better to have
relatively hard padding (pieces of rubber of rubber-backed carpet) that
are restricted just to the very edges (gunwales) of the hull to prevent
pressure on the deck. You don't need soft padding, just something to
prevent hard contact that will rub.

Mike Fennelly

Mar 20, 2022, 9:00:14 PMMar 20
If I were entrusted with such a boat I would be inclined to build cradles that support the boat with a strap. Nice, new seat belt material would be my choice. It's the only way to really spread the load. A firm padding at the edges could mar (or worse) the deck bede, and a softer padding risks wrinkling the deck.

Mike Fennelly
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