A response by Doug Martin
Thank you for your interest in Echo Rowing and glad you are having fun learning to row with waves, wind and current!
As you suggest, boats are compared. Social forces can overwhelm valid perceptions. While we don't attempt to know what will be right for another person, we can give some points for you to consider based on our own reasoning and experience.
We have been around open-water rowing for many years and with shells there certainly is a "macho effect" and a lot of put down. As in, "why are you (sissy) rowing a boat shorter and wider than mine?" Even in fixed-seat rowing the macho effect leads to people suffering with oars longer than optimum for speed and endurance. We have found less of this attitude among the truly accomplished athletes who are interested and able to recognize the full spectrum of possible conditions to master and who appreciate the enabling capabilities and shortcomings of various boat designs.
In all sports, it is common for people to move into equipment that over-specialized and overly demanding for their abilities and purpose, with the result that they have less fun and fewer hours of usable conditions available.
Have you tried other boats for comparison? Many shells have a flat deck. We find that the Echo has unique response to waves, almost as if it is a native sea creature. The stability and forgiving motion you feel in the Echo come from the design and it is from the design features that make the Echo a boat that continues to support the rower as skills improve and allows exploration of conditions beyond the capability of previous shells. Many Echo owners were already experienced rowers when they purchasedsome with Olympic experience and they report that, to their surprise, the Echo does not give them a sense of bogging down or unduly holding them back while enabling them to have fun in places and conditions they never dreamed of rowing. On the east coast, racing statistics show the Echo often beating longer, narrower boats.
To underscore the relation of design, place and conditions, I would like to state that the Echo was designed for my own use and after both designing and using longer and narrower boats that are clearly faster on flat water.
My experience in rowing shelltype boats on open water began with a wood racing single 40 years ago, continued through pioneering work with his father on the Alden shells, and then into his own designs. Around 2000, I took time out to conduct a series of experiments in hull performance. Those discoveries evolved into a design for his own yeararound use in our Maine coastal waters.
The exceptional all-around performance and feel of the boat led to our decision to place it in production as the Echo.
My primary goal was to push ocean surfing performance envelope. Design features of the hull and deck enhance the ocean surfing abilities by reducing sideward broaching forces and deck pushdown forces and by enabling the the hull to stabilize and plane off at high speeds. Major hull shape parameters include moderate overall rocker, narrow U-sections forward, dihedral Vsections below the chine from amidships aft, moderate flare in the topsides, fulllength skeg, reflexed buttock lines leading to a square transom to enhance the planing capabilities, large rolled edge on the gunnels to deflect water down, and make re-entry from the water safe and easy.