How to replace a skeg or fin on a Vespoli 8 man rowing shell

I’m sure we’ve all been out rowing and the cox has accidentally ran over a log and before you have time to stop the log has broke your skeg.

The first skeg is for the newer shells, and the second skeg is for the older eights
Fin for E & D hull EightsCoxed Four Fin for D & E hulls & pre-1990 8+ & 4+'s

Plumber's Putty to use for skeg repairs
Plumber's Putty to use for skeg repairs
Skeg with plumber's putty
Skeg with plumber's putty

To replace the skeg you’ll need:

1. New skeg/fin $33
2. Plumber’s Putty ~$8
3. Clean hull

For a new skeg/fin you can order one online from  Make sure you order the right one.  If your eight is a pre-1990 boat you’ll need to order the fin without the cut-out for the rudder otherwise get the fin with the cut-out.   Vespoli recently created a new skeg called a practice fin / skeg that is yellow and breaks away more easily and might save you from having to repair the honeycomb and the carbon fiber.   Plumber’s Putty you can pick up at home depot or any other hardware store.   Before applying the putty clean your hull before hand so that the putty can bond well to the boat and to the fin.

First open the putty.  Apply the putty in a cone shape on the brass studs about 1/2 inch up from the fin with the base of the cone where the brass meets the plastic.  Place the fin on the boat making sure the straight side is towards the rudder.  Press it firmly down all the way.  Now open the stern hatch and reach up and put the two wing nuts on the brass studs and turn the wing nuts until the fin is secured to the boat.   You’ve now replaced your skeg!

Fix your rowing shell rudder
If you also lost your rudder you can easily fix it by unscrewing the bolt on the deck side of the shell and pulling the rudder from the bottom of the shell.  Then just place a new rudder down the tube and reattach the steering yoke to the rudder.  As you tighten the nut down on the yoke be sure to have the rudder straight and the steering string straight.  You may want to hold onto the rudder so it doesn’t turn as you tighten the nut.

I hope this helps you the next time you lose your skeg or rudder and you need to know how to fix it.


Coach Dressler

CSU Rowing

One thought on “How to replace a skeg or fin on a Vespoli 8 man rowing shell”

  1. Coach:

    I suggest that you use plumbers putty instead. It’s cheap, a can lasts forever, and it’s easy to remove.

    Take a little bit, and roll it in your palms until it is a warm, soft, nickel-sized ball. Split in half and roll each half to elongate and wrap around the bases of the brass studs, making little cones of it about 3/4″ high on each stud. Simply insert the fin in place and tighten the wing nuts very firmly with your fingers. You can rub off the excess from the hull easily and you’re done – it seals, just like your new sink drain, and it cleans up easy. The putty is waterproof and when you replace the fin next time the old putty is easy to get off.

    If it still leaks, tighten the wing nuts, but also check the rudder tube. If it has been knocked lose it can leake. That’s a different and more extensive repair, although not that hard.

    John Davis

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