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Thread: Oar sizing

  1. #1

    Default Oar sizing

    I purchased an Alaskan Serise Raft this spring and Jim's info recomends 8.5 foot oars. I was wondering about the difference longer oars would make. Does it give more power? I can definently see how they could get in the way on smaller streams.

    I can also see how too short of oars and the oars would be too high in the resting position. So, do the one foot extentions by Carlisle really make a difference if I am going to do some larger rivers?

    Also, has anyone had any issues with two piece oars vs. single shafts?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    The best oar length depends on personal preferences and the width of the frame at the oarlocks (or pins). Generally rafters like about 1/3 of the oar length inboard the boat, and the remaining 2/3 outboard of the oarlocks. So for a 9' oar you might prefer to set the oar stopper (or oar clip) 3' from the end of the handle.

    First thing to do is measure the distance between the oarlocks. Then determine how much distance you want between the oar handles. I usually like about a 12" gap between the ends of the oar handles when the swing towards each other, some people want a little more or a little less, and I have met people who actually want the oar handles to overlap each other. Subtract your preferred gap from the distance between the oarlocks, and then divide the remainder in half. That will be 1/3 the length of the oar. For that 9' oar I want 7' between the oarlocks (7'-1' divided by 2 = 3' x3 = 9'). A 6' wide frame usually has about 7' between the oarlocks, since the oarlocks each hang about 5-6" outside the frame.

    If you use longer oars and keep the same 3' of oar length inboard the oarlocks, you loose leverage but gain speed. If your boat is very light and fast that can be a good change, but if your boat is heavily loaded, shorter oars can provide more leverage for easier rowing. Usually shortening your oars also requires lowering your oarlocks, else your oars will be too steep, and the handles too high for best use.

    These are all just estimates, and other factors, like seat and tube hight and personal preference, have much to do with oar length selection. Longer oars don't necessarily mean more power, and adding extenders generally reduces power unless you widen the frame, and move the oar stoppers too.

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Jim S is right

    you need to start somewhere, and jim is right on...
    here is anouther way of figuring the length of oars.
    you need to measure the width from oar lock to oar lock, here is a recipe used by NRS
    Frame Width
    Recommended Minimum Length
    8 '- 9'
    9' - 10'

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