Rowing Equipment III: Oars

Along with boats, oars are the most basic and important piece of rowing equipment.

Today all oars are constructed from a mixture of carbon fiber and fiberglass, permitting the construction of a lightweight oar with the ability to control important properties, notably the stiffness of the oar.

Sculling oars come in a variety of lengths from approximately 280cm  - 295cm or more, with custom options available from leading manufacturers. Sweep oars range from 370cm to 380cm or more, again with custom lengths as well. Today, most oars come with the ability to adjust the length to a degree, typically at the handle.

The "blade" often refers to the part that is placed in the water to propel the boat. While some clubs will invariably still have the older Macon style of blade in their stock the "hatchet" style of blade is used be virtually all competitive crews now. The hatchet blade offers a greater amount of surface area, and it is used with shorter oars as a result. Its center of balance is toward the top of the oar, rather than the middle as in macon oars. Most rowers find them easier to grip the water without technical mistakes. The shaft of the oar is connected to the blade assymetrically - higher up on the blade which minimizes the amount of shaft in the water (which contributes to drag), as well as maximizing the surface area of the balde that can be submerged.

The exact size and shape of the hatchet varies between companies, and individual companies even offer a variety of shapes.

The path of the oar through the water during a stroke is not uniform. The forces applied as a result change throughout the stroke and rowers are also more effective in applying force early and through the mid part of the stroke than in the later part of the stroke. Manufacturers dedicate considerable time and energy to research as the shape of the blade will change how effective it is in each phase of he stroke.

Oar Manufactuers:

Concept II - USA Concept II, maker of the most-used rowing ergometer, also provides the majority of oars used in North America.

Croker Oars of Australia have significant market penetration in North America and around the world.

Empacher - the German boat builder also makes their own oars.