I'm sitting here looking out my window at the snow, and trying to imagine the coming rowing season. Two years ago I bought a used Maas Flyweight, and I have been rowing it with great pleasure (I'm 5'11", 150 lb) on a big, often windy and rough lake. I've done a couple of open water races with it- the 20 mile Blackburn Challenge on the ocean in Mass. twice, and the 14 mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse (L2L) race on Long Island Sound three times. I love the Blackburn, hate the L2L (always seems to get ***, with wind against current in very shallow water).
Last fall, I decided just for fun to see what a head race would be like, so I entered a small local race, the Head of the Mohawk in Schenectady, NY. I rowed my Flyweight, and managed to get to the start on time, kept out of people's way, didn't hit anything, and even managed to come within 8 sec of the third place finisher in my class (veterans over 60) in the 4K race. I enjoyed it tremendously- friendly people, beautiful place, the first time I had ever rowed on a narrow river; nice flat water, the trees on the banks zooming by.... I was admiring the boats the others were rowing there, Van Dusen, Filippi, etc., even two gorgeous Carl Douglas shells.
So, I'm hooked- I definitely want to do more of this, and I'm wondering whether to try to find a better boat for flat-water rowing. I really love rowing my Maas Flyweight (24 ft, 12" waterline beam, 32 lb), but surely it must not be as fast on flat water as a real racing shell, even for an old, slow guy like me. Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference there really is, both in speed and in feel? Will a racing shell be a lot harder to set up, and less comfortable to row? Would I actually go any faster, or at my slow pace would there not be any significant difference (for that 4K race I only did a 2:15/500m average speed)? And, most important, would it be even more fun, or not? I'd enjoy any comments.