Originally Posted by whip
And as long as it's true confessions I drove my raft into the meat of the ledgehole of Lave at 25K cfs both spare oars strapped tightly. The biggest piece of oar we found was 4 ft long. That was an interesting swim!
All bets are off once you go in the ledge hole. Disaster in Lava - A rapid in the Grand Canyon - YouTube
I too have seen damaged blades when placed to the bow. Have yet to see damage with them to the rear. Very unscientific survey there tho...
And I agree that most rapids are over or almost over within that 5 second window after losing an oar, and efforts are most likely better spent managing the position of the boat to improve chances of safe passage. There are of course exceptions to that.
I find the blades forward interfere with passengers getting back in the boat, whether the swim was voluntary or involuntary. And handles forward also makes for a convenient oar rest.
All things considered, I'm better off with blades to the the rear.