Since 2017


“We are excited to bring The Stroke Master™ to the rowing community as it will revolutionize the off-water training experience.”   


Founders and inventors of The Stroke Master™ powered by Syncrow, Mike Schaefer and John Balint, met while attending Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  Both had joined the newly founded rowing club. John quickly found himself captain of the team and was given the responsibility of improving the skills of the team during off-water training.  The team was fortunate to have access to a prototype rowing simulator for a few days. For the next few evenings you could find Mike, John and the team training on the device. They found their technique and form greatly improved and it translated quickly to their performance in their boat on the water.  This simulator (in 1993) cost almost $40k, so since then Mike has been determined to build a better and more cost effective simulator.

lots of poker

By 2014, after about 1000 poker games between Mike and John (with much of the discussion being around how to make a viable rowing simulator), it started to happen.  When Mike combined his knowledge as a controls and systems engineer with a random assortment of parts that resembled exploded computer guts draped over a rowing erg, the first version of The Stroke Master™ was created.  John shared his experience in building a business (20 years building his construction business at that time) by offering to build Crew Innovations, the company that was to launch this new innovative rowing simulator. A few more years of building and Beta testing prototypes with several Seattle area rowing clubs and CrossFit gyms confirmed what Mike and John already knew – a team rowing simulator that helped athletes with form and synchronization was long overdue and a much desired product.


Over the last few years they’ve set up demos with TSMs in banks of 2, 3, 4, or 8 for rowers to train on with their teammates.  Crew Innovations has hosted DryGattas – land based team racing which also caught the interest of CrossFit athletes, as they too thrive on team competition.  The excitement of these team races really brought to life Mike and John’s early vision of The Stroke Master™ – to make off-water training, both in the winter season and during the rowing season, not just be about individuals rowing separately on ergs.  The Stroke Master™ allows athletes to train as a team, focusing on synchronization and rowing form to gain the swing of the boat much faster than with on-water training alone. Athletes are more accountable to each other as they can feel each other’s contribution to the boat while focusing on form and synchronization.  All of these create faster times where it counts…on the water.

REvolutionizing dryland training

The Stroke Master allows coaches to save time by doing seat-racing on dryland and even offer novice rowers a way to improve their skills before ever getting on the water.  A leveling of the playing field between men, women, novice and varsity is created by offering a team-sync mode – where the overall synchronization % of the team on a bank of simulators can be used as the priority performance gauge instead of just on time alone.

Now, the software and hardware testing is finalized, and they’ve put together a team and shops for manufacture and delivery.  They are excited to bring The Stroke Master™ to the rowing community as it will revolutionize the off-water training experience.