- Solid Construction
- Stylish oak finish
- Smooth rowing action
- Easy assembly
- Simple monitor
- Low weight capacity
- Foot pedals not well designed
This is our review of the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine.
When I first saw this obvious copy of the original machine put by the WaterRower company, I was quick to dismiss it as a cheap rip-off. However, a large number of positive reviews by verified users caused me to take a closer look. I have since brought to bear my 30 years of fitness industry experience to pore over this machine from every angle to provide you with the unvarnished truth about the Mr. Captain WaterRower.
My overall thoughts on the Mr. Captain Water Rower is that, if you are a beginner or intermediate level rower who is after a good looking machine that will give you a solid reliable rowing experience at a cheap price, and you’re not worried about having a quality monitor, then the Mr. Captain will meet your needs. More serious rowers, however, will be happy to spend a bit more to buy the original Water Rower.
In the paragraphs to follow, I will unpack the Mr. Captain water rower to provide you with a complete analysis of its features, benefits, and drawbacks. I’ll also provide an overview of two other models put out by the same company that manufactures the Mr. Captain, Mr. Rudolf, and Mr. Right.
Finally, I’ll compare the Mr. Captain to a couple of popular alternatives to give you an apples-to-apples comparison and put you in the best position to make a smart buying decision.
Keep reading to get the unbiased, hype-free truth about the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine.
Mr. Captain Rowing Machine
The Mr. Captain Rowing machine is a home-use water rower that has an oak frame finish. Being a water rower, it is powered by a forward-positioned water tank that is fitted with rotator blades connected to the rowing handle. You have to manually fill the tank with water and adjust the water level to provide yourself with different levels of resistance.
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is a variable resistance rowing machine. That means that you cannot set the resistance, as you would on a magnetic rower. Instead, the resistance level is determined by the speed of your row – the faster you go, the more water is displaced and the harder it becomes to row.
When you start rowing, the blades churn through the water to provide a resistance that is similar to what you get on the water. It is modeled off the market-leading wooden models produced by the WaterRower company.
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is available in the following 3 finishes:
- Vintage Oak
- Red Walnut
The Mr. Captain Rowing machine, along with the other two models in the range, the Mr. Rudolf and the Mr. Right, were released in 2020 and are manufactured in China.
In terms of being a budget-priced water rowing machine that will provide you with a reliable, smooth row and that looks great, the Mr. Captain rower is a good machine. This is not one of your run-of-the-mill cheap Chinese knock-offs. It’s solid, functional, and will give you a decent workout.
Functionality And Design
The Mr. Captain Water Rower delivers a surprisingly smooth, fluid rowing motion. It’s not up to the level of the original WaterRower, but it’s not that far off. There is very little lag on the return and you won’t have to deal with the jerkiness that you find with many budget water rowing machines.
The frame of this water rower is made from high-quality MDF engineered timber. It is then waxed and oiled to give the appearance of solid oak. The listing on Amazon states that the frame is made from solid wood. That is technically correct according to the modern definition of wood. However, it is not solid oak. Still, it is sturdy and it looks great. In fact, you could leave this rower in your living space as a feature piece with no worries.
The frame is durable, providing a max user capability of 320 pounds. That is a lot less than the thousand pounds that the original WaterRower can handle, but still impressive for the price of this machine. Because it is not solid oak, the frame does an inferior job of absorbing noise and vibration compared to the WaterRower A1,
The front-mounted water tank on the Mr. Captain water rower is thicker than most budget models. That means that, while you’ll still get that soothing sound of the water sloshing around inside the tank, that noise won’t be so loud that it upsets people nearby who are trying to watch TV.
This water rower has a footprint of 82” x 22”. That is about the same as most other wooden water rowers. However, it is a lot lighter than higher-priced models, weighing in at only 58 pounds – that’s about half of what the original WaterRower weighs. As mentioned, this rower is still durable. The lighter weight also makes it easier to move around and to place in an upright position for storage.
The footrests on this machine are centrally located between the dual rails. They are larger than standard but are not as textured as you find on most competitors. There are several complaints by online reviewers regarding the security of the footrests, with people stating that they are unable to get a secure lock in on one or both feet. Unless your feet are locked in, you will not be able to achieve a solid row.
Features and Benefits
The frame on the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is quite different from what you may have come to expect from a low-cost piece of fitness equipment out of China. Granted, it is not made from solid oak, but it is still a solid unit. The dual rails are constructed of durable aluminum alloy. This contrasts with many competitors who use plastic covers.
While not overly large in terms of a water rower, the frame and rail length are sufficient for taller people to get a good workout in without any restriction to their range of movement. I’m 5’11” and was able to complete my strokes with no problem, but I’ve seen comments by people who are up to 6’5” saying the same thing.
The seat on the Mr. Captain rowing machine is covered in stylish faux brown leather. It is ergonomically contoured to mold to the shape of your backside and padded with heavy-duty foam that is impact-resistant. That all adds up to a comfortable sitting experience that allows you to row for an extended period without experiencing a pain in the butt.
The seat operates smoothly on the rower rails by way of high-quality industrial ball bearings. The fact that the rails are covered with a heavy-duty aluminum alloy also contributes to the fluid movement of the seat up and down the rail. Unlike many low-priced rowers, whether they’re water, air, or magnetic, you won’t experience any wobbling of the seat or any creaking as you go back and forth.
Being a water rower, it is not possible to fold the Mr. Captain for storage when not in use. However, it can be stored in an upright position. This majorly reduces the footprint. The light weight of this rowing machine makes it easy to flip the machine up on its end, with the tank side down, for storage. It will fit into a standard-sized cupboard in this position and can be stored with the water still in the tank.
The Mr. Captain is also fitted with front-mounted transportation wheels to make it easy to move around your workout area. There is, however, no transportation handle, which would have been a nice addition.
The water tank has a water capacity of 4.5-5 gallons (17-19 liters). So, when topped up to the highest level, the machine can weigh up to 100 pounds.
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing Machine features a dual rail system. This enables a smoother, more fluid movement of the seat along the rails than you might get with a single rail system. It also means that your feet will generally be closer together than on a single rail rower. That is because your feet will be positioned between the two rails. Rather than on either side of a single rail.
The monitor on the Mr. Captain Rowing Machine can best be described as simple but functional. There are three program modes, as follows:
In manual mode, you simply free row however you like. In target mode, you can set a goal target in terms of things like calories, time, strokes, and distance, and then row in accordance with a countdown. In interval mode, you can set a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) style workout with fast and slow intervals.
The Mr. Captain monitor collects the following data …
- Strokes per minute
- Total strokes
- Calories burned
For the pulse function to operate, however, you will need to have a chest strap pulse monitor, which is not supplied with this machine. This will cost you around $100.
There are some issues with the reliability of the data collection on this rower. Several online reviewers have pointed out that there is quite some variance between the same workout done on the original WaterRower and the Mr. Captain in terms of calorie burn. The strokes per minute are also claimed to be unreliable.
When you’re in the midst of your row, this monitor is hard to see. That’s because the contrast is too dark and the digits are too small. Overall, you’re probably going to be disappointed with this monitor.
The Mr. Captain water rowing machine is Bluetooth capable so that it can be used with your favorite app. This machine pairs with the iConsole+, which is a popular rowing app with very good reviews.
|Mr. Captain Rowing Machine||Specs|
|Assembled dimensions||82L x 22W x 20H inches (208L x 56W x 51H cm)|
|Assembled weight||58.5 lbs (26.5 kg)|
|Supported weight||320 lbs (145 kg)|
|Resistance System||Water Resistance|
The Mr. Captain Water Rowing machine will arrive partly assembled, The water tank will come already attached to the front portion of the frame, along with the handle and footpads. All you need to do is to attach the dual rails and the seat. That is a job that you should be able to handle by yourself inside of 30 minutes.
Once you have assembled the water rower, you will need to add water to the tank to provide the required resistance. There are markings along the side of the tank to indicate the water level to provide different resistances. If you later want to make the resistance lighter, you will have to remove some of the water. Your purchase comes with an automatic pump to make this process as painless as possible.
Price and Value
The Mr. Captain Water Rower can be purchased on Amazon for $719. By contrast, the WaterRower brand of machines sells on the water rower website at prices ranging between $895 and $2500. That means that you will save close to $200 by buying the Mr. Captain water rower over the original model on which it is based, the WaterRower A1.
The Mr. Captain Water Rower can only be purchased from Amazon. This provides a level of buyer protection and ensures the sharpest price point. There is also free shipping on verified purchases.
The Mr. Captain Water Rower comes with a 12-month warranty on the frame. All other parts are covered by a 3-month warranty cover. This compares with 5 years frame warranty and 3 years on the parts when you buy the original WaterRower.
Mr. Rudolf and Mr. Right Rowing Machines
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is one of three water rowers sold by the same manufacturer. The other two are Mr. Rudolf and Mr. Right. These three machines have virtually identical specifications, except that they have a different finish. The timber finish on the Mr. Rudolf water rower is a lot lighter than on the Mr. Captain.
The Mr. Right is finished in a slightly different shade than either of the other two machines. Apart from that, as far as I could see, all of the specifications on these three machines are very nearly completely the same, including the warranty terms. The only point of difference is some slight variation in the monitor capability between the three machines.
Here are some alternative rowing machines that may interest you instead of the Mr Captain.
Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian SF RW5713 Water Rowing Machine
The Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian is one of the most popular budget rowers on the market. Sunny is a California-based company that has forged a reputation for producing low-priced home fitness gear of the highest caliber. This rower lives up to that reputation. You don’t get the cool-looking wooden frame that is a feature of the Mr. Captain rower, but you do get a pretty solid and stable steel frame.
The Sunny Obsidian features a 16 blade fan wheel inside of a tank that is equally as thick as the one on the Mr. Captain rower. This is another machine where you have to manually adjust the water level to increase or decrease the rowing resistance.
The Sunny Obsidian is not quite as robust as the Mr. Captain. It has a maximum user weight of 250 pounds, which is 70 pounds less than the Mr. Captain. However, you can still get a solid row without the base wobbling or jumping around when you are at full tilt.
The monitor on the Sunny Obsidian is at about the same level as the Mr. Captain, which means that it’s pretty hard to see the digits when you are rowing. As with the Mr. Captain, you’ll have to buy a chest strap heart rate monitor to include your pulse on the monitor readouts.
The footrests on the Sunny Obsidian are more ergonomically designed, have a textured surface, and can be pivoted for optimum rowing mechanics.
The Sunny Obsidian is considerably cheaper than the Mr. Captain rowing machine. If you aren’t hung up on the aesthetic niceties of the oak finish on the Mr. Captain rowing machine, it makes sense to go with the Obsidian.
WaterRower A1 Rowing Machine
Since we’ve been comparing the Mr. Captain to the original WaterRower throughout this review, it’s only right that we include the original machine as an alternative. There are about a dozen models in the Water Rower stable, but the lowest-priced model and the one that most closely compares to the Mr. Captain is the A1 model, which retails on the official WaterRower website for $895.
When put side by side, the WaterRower A1 and the Mr. Captain look pretty similar, with the main difference being that the Mr. Captain features a dual-rail rather than the monorail on the Mr. Captain. The other major difference comes down to the frame construction. The WaterRower A1 frame is handcrafted in premium ash hardwood, whereas the Mr. Captain is made from MDF engineered wood that is finished in oak veneer.
The genuine hardwood that the A1 is made from means that it will do a much better job of absorbing sound and vibration than the Mr. Captain rower. Another big difference between the A1 and the Mr. Captain is the monitor. The A1 is fitted with the A1 monitor which displays the same units as the Mr. Captain but does so more accurately. It also provides the following intensity units:
- Meters per second
- Miles per hour
- Split time per 500 meters
- Split time per 2 kilometers
- Calories per hour
The third major point of difference between the Mr. Captain and the WaterRower A1 is the warranty. You get 5 times more cover on the frame and an extra two years and six months on parts. That is a big difference and pretty much negates the extra couple of hundred dollars that you will save when buying the Mr. Captain rowing machine.
Should You Buy The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine?
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is for you if:
- You want a cheap water rower that has a cool oak timber finish
- Are a beginner who is after a reliable row on a functional machine
- Aren’t worried about the reliability of the monitor
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is not for you if:
- Are against buying an imitation of the original
- Want the reliability of a good warranty
- Are after a solid oak frame that reduces vibration and sound
The Mr. Captain Rowing Machine is a direct copy of the WaterRower A1. While it is more solid, functional, and streamlined than the average rip-off model, it does not feature actual oak timber, has a pretty disappointing monitor, and has pitiful warranty coverage. For the sake of the extra couple of hundred dollars that you’ll save, you’d be better off, in my estimation, paying a little more to get the original.