“Stiffer boats provide an advantage because the power that the rower puts in doesn’t get wasted in slightly changing the shape of the hull with each stroke; it gets transferred more fully into boat speed,” Van Dusen says. “The boat weight is also important because as less water is displaced, less water has to be moved out of the boat’s way, reducing wave drag. In addition, less surface area is in contact with the water, reducing viscous drag. Lighter boats also require less power to get moving, which allows for a faster start on a 2,000-meter course.”

Manufacturers blend vacuum bagging and autoclave curing techniques in the fabrication of these racing boats and continually seek innovations in how they blend technologies. The biggest factor preventing lighter boats is the minimum weight requirement set by the International Rowing Federation. That may range from 221 pounds for a coxed eight (in which 8 rowers each hold one oar in two hands) to a mere 26.5 pounds for a single-person kayak.

Golf

Club technology featured on Rio’s new golf course will be vastly different from the sport’s last Olympic appearance in 1904. Golf club shaft manufacturers have wholeheartedly embraced composites. A recent report from Markets & Markets says that golf clubs are the fastest growing application of composites in the sports market. By incorporating composite materials, shaft manufacturers can improve both club swing and the distance a struck ball can achieve.

Manufacturers continue to explore the possibilities provided by molding CFRP shafts and crowns. Callaway, which has been making multi-material CFRP drivers and fairway woods for more than a decade, molds carbon fiber compounds to create club heads that it says are lighter and stronger than titanium. This ratio reportedly leads to higher inertia for faster swings and balls that achieve greater distances. Other products use special blends of polymers to absorb vibrations.