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How M858 compares against competitor moulds

Where did we start?

After several years of Sykes 8+ not being the top choice for many School Boy senior programs in Australia, it was clear Sykes needed to start afresh with a whole new Eight design. Whilst the Mould 848 design has been one of our most successful designs (across two weight ranges including the smaller 847 version), the Mould 848 (85kg crew average) was not suitable for many school 1st  Eights weighing in closer to 88kg Average.

In recent years, we have had a greater capacity to analyse and benchmark designs, model theoretical hull performance and combine this with customer feedback as to what they like and dislike about different manufacturer’s products. Once we have this information, we are able to confidently set about a new design.

The design of the hull, while critical, is only one part of the design process. A separate process for optimising stiffness and the overall structural integrity of our entire range of boats has undergone a similar process. It is often these improvements that are noticed by athletes and coaches first before the more subtle traits of the hull design.

Benchmarking Process:

The first step in the Mould 858 hull design was to analyse what was popular in the market. Trends come and go and are often a big factor in reasons for purchasing particular boats. It was clear that Hudson S8.31 and Empacher R86 were a popular choice in many of the schoolboy’s programs, particularly where budget constraints were obviously not of significant concern. The Filippi 42 mould was also analysed alongside our own 827 and 848 moulds.

Data was gathered on each boat using our own CNC machine scanning capabilities to give us a virtual surface that could then be analysed using sophisticated softwares developed both in house and by third parties. Key parameters that were measured included: 

  • Viscous drag (skin friction);
  • Wave drag;
  • Total drag (viscous drag + wave drag);
  • Stability: specifically, theoretical compared with perceived.

Analysis confirmed our M848 still outperformed the market in terms of lowest overall drag, however lagged behind areas such as stability, particularly against the Empacher design. This was in-line with the customer feedback that we had received. It was clear many of our school customers wanted a boat that was considered stable. In our testing, the Empacher R86 and the Filippi 42 were clearly the most stable. The Hudson S8.31 had a low stability factor compared to the Empacher and Filippi, but did have a very low overall drag result.

School age crews can be considered as inexperienced rowers relative to the average national team senior rowers have rowed for at least 10-15 years. As such, a higher stability factor would certainly be more desirable for most crews. However, crews that have achieved a high competency level could take advantage of a more challenging hull with better drag characteristics.

The Design Process:

Sykes took on the challenge to produce a high stability hull with very low total drag characteristics. This was not a simple task; It took over 12 months involving many iterations and hull modifications that were driven by the design principles and customer feedback we had received during the redevelopment of our single scull range. As a result of continuous testing, analysis and customer feedback, we have produced a shape with significantly improved stability, while maintaining a very low total drag. We are confident that our new 858 mould is the most stable and efficient design to date that we have offered to our customers.

We are also confident that the combination of characteristics we achieved in the Mould 858’s development makes it the stand out choice for the schoolboy Eight market (80-90Kg average crew).

See below for a sample of the data we gathered throughout our testing.

 Figure 1: Total Drag Over Speed


Figure 2: Stability Figures for all Hulls


In Figure 1, the Total Drag for each hull over the speed range is presented. A 2000m race at 6:00min pace is 5.55 m/s. As you can see, Brand A & B have higher drag through all speeds, while Brand C has done well to match the Sykes M848 and M858 (labelled as Brand D) through the speed Range.

However, in Figure 2, the Stability figure for Brand C and M848 is low compared to M858, Brand A & B. This is best demonstrated in Figure 3, which shows the usual trade off between Speed & Stability for hulls on the market


Figure 3: Speed Vs Stability

In Figure 3, we can see that most boat builders have traded boat speed for stability. The new M858 represents a new frontier in the creation of low drag, high stability hulls. Sykes believes the M858 is now the benchmark for all future hull designs.


Figure 4: Hull Parameters


Please feel free to contact our Sales team should you require any further information or have some questions about how we go about our designs.

Sharing our knowledge helps our customers make informed decisions about their hull purchases.



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