About Row & Sail – How We Help You

Creating opportunities for you and your friends to row and/or sail – on rivers, lakes and coastal waters – in boats that perform superbly and are safe.

Why rowing?

(Sliding seat rowing) It’s about pleasure and whole-of-body exercise. Getting the main drive from your legs, in boats that are designed to run well between strokes, gives you a rhythm with power that is intensely satisfying. It can be Zen-like.

After a row with friends, you know you have done a good general workout (arms, back and legs). No jarred joints, no risk from cars and no pressure for Lycra.

If you have rowed in still-water racing shells, you will know the feeling of accelerating through the stroke and the smooth run of the boat as you come forward for the catch. If your rowing has been in dinghies, there is a whole new exciting world waiting for you. We design that feel and performance into boats that will sit you up safely so that you can enjoy that pleasure and exercise in a wide range of settings. You can choose to row on smooth water, in coastal conditions or participate in adventurous expeditions and raid events (rowing and sailing in company, often in a journey over more than one day).

Why Sailing?

Take a slender, lightly powered and light-weight boat. It can take off in a breath of air, point superbly, be neutral on the helm at all angles of heel and plane effortlessly. That is sailing code for a big grin on your face. We provide access to this pleasure and outdoor activity in light-weight boats with uncluttered rigs.

Rowing, Sailing or Both?

Definitely! Usually it is one or the other. However, you can enjoy both. We have designed really clever and innovative solutions that make this possible. We are the design leaders. The new expedition versions of the Derwent Skiffs include provision for a small sail. This allows you to mix sailing and rowing when doing more than just going out for a row. But if you want a boat that rows delightfully with a sliding seat and will also sail with the same finesse as a single-sailed racing dinghy, The Derwent Raider achieves this.

Not only can you choose to row or to sail, with the unneeded gear quickly and easily left behind, but you can change between the two while on the water. If you put together impressive rowing and sailing performance, light weight, a self-draining cockpit and a boat that lies on its side when capsized and not upside down, you will be hard pressed to find its equal anywhere in the world. We designed, built and proved it here in Tasmania.

A place to Connect – shared interests

There is life after still-water racing and serious pleasure to be had if you have only rowed in dinghies. This website will help you find practical options for getting on the water and help you connect with people with common interests. The events calendar will help with event notice and organisation around Australia.

This site is also a place where you can post your experiences so that we build a great reservoir of knowledge and interest.

Boats to give you access

We have focussed our design skills on performance and safety, while always being attentive to the look, feel and materials that make a boat both functional and delightful.

Derwent Skiffs have proven themselves to be beautiful recreational rowing boats. They balance speed, stability, safety and wave handling capability. Our newest versions are down to 20kg for easy car-topping. This makes recreational rowing as accessible as kayaking and surf ski paddling. In addition, the new skiffs let you express yourself with either the beauty of classic lines or the robust purposefulness of contemporary lines.

Derwent Raiders have created a whole new genre of light-weight water recreation. Just in rowing format, a Derwent Raider will allow you range from serious adventure through to simply going for a row as if you were in a dinghy. But, you have the power and run to go distances and do it with immense satisfaction.

Derwent Raiders have a rig that is quick, easy and safe. The sail can be raised or lowered on the water so that you can switch between rowing and sailing. The hull has three separate buoyancy chambers and a self-draining cockpit. It is easily righted and, when capsized, will lie with the mast horizontal. This is much safer than so many designs that are most stable with the mast vertically down. It is a quantum leap in safety compared with open boats that, typically, will remain uncontrollably swamped with even low waves. The five square metre sail is sufficient for the Derwent Raider’s easily driven hull. When it heels in a breeze, it remains comfortably stable and does not develop weather helm.

Our boats are designed with conventional sliding seats rather than a fixed seat plus moving rigger/stretcher. Conventional sliding seat parts from racing boats are readily available and the engineering is simpler and lighter.

We also supply the plywood kit for Mike Water’s W17 trimaran. We used our experience to make this impressive beach tri more available by saving builders a lot of time lofting, cutting and trimming.

The People

Allan and Jackie live in Hobart, Tasmania, the southernmost state in Australia. The Derwent River runs nearby. Southern Tasmania is rich with rivers, channels, islands and bays for recreational/adventure/coastal rowing.

Allan Witt has lived with boats all his life, picking up his design skills from his parents, Lou and Maida Witt. They designed and built multiple boats, bringing keen eyes for beauty, extraordinary ingenuity and great understanding of materials to each of their creations. Even fittings were custom made whenever off-the-shelf ones were not quite right for the job.

Allan initially established an awarded career in furniture design. He began as a social entrepreneur, creating jobs in the 1980’s recession, in a local employment initiative called Flexidesk. Getting back into boats was like coming home. It began when the Derwent Skiff won an international design award at the 2007 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, a bi-annual event held in Hobart in February. Preparing boats in kit form, so that others could build them at home, was a natural fit with furniture design and construction. Allan designs in CAD and the files are sent to a machine shop for CNC routing. It’s the same process for furniture components and boat-kit parts.

Jackie Witt, Allan’s wife and a teacher by profession, has worked closely with Allan in both the furniture and boats areas. It was Jackie’s idea to put the twist in the legs of the Stave Stool when exploring the options with some mocked up parts in the family living room. It was immediately obvious that this was a stunning design detail. Sons, Alistair and Rhys love rowing and sailing too. Their favourite events include the Launceston to Hobart yacht race and the Tawe Nunnugah, which is a week-long raid event from southern Tasmania up to Hobart. It is run by the Living Boat Trust just prior to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

Julian Robertson is a keen supporter with a lifelong interest in small boats and passage-making. He regularly rows his Derwent Skiff which he built from plans. He makes full day journeys, regularly achieving 40km in a day, with a maximum of 59km in one day.

Get In Contact

Contact Us

Jackie Witt
0429 448 854