A feature of the end of twentieth century rowing was the development of non-olympic multicrew racing boats, typically fixed seat-gigs, pilot boats and in Finland church- or longboats. The most usual craft in races held around the coasts of Britain during summer months is the Cornish pilot gig, most typically in the south-west, with crews of 6 from local towns and races of varying distances. The Cornish pilot gig was designed and built to ferry harbour and river pilots to and from ships in fierce coastal waters. The boat needed to be stable and fast with the large crew hence making it ideal for its modern racing usage. In Finland 14-oared churchboats race throughout the summer months, usually on lakes, and often with mixed crews. The largest gathering sees over 7000 rowers mainly rowing the 60 kilometres (37 mi) course at Sulkava near the eastern border over a long weekend in mid July. The weekend features the World Masters churchboat event which also includes a 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) dash.
Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.