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Discussion Starter #1
So, for most of the summer, my left elbow would start hurting midway through a day of pushing on the oars. What I found was that if I started consciously rolling my wrist forward near the end of the stroke it wouldn't hurt. I've always been a huge proponent of "feathering" oars, specifically working to keep the blade perpendicular to motion during a stroke, but have found that my last two years running cobra locks outside of my sawyer outfitter diameter shafts have diminished the amount I work the oar. This is highlighted by my elbow observation above. The cobra/large D sawyer combo is really sticky and yes, they are properly tuned.

So the other day I took my dad on a duck hunt, 17 miles of upriver wind and halfway through the float my elbow had had enough. I stopped an replaced my left cobra with my spare (old superstron I think) and holy shit, what a difference. within an hour my elbow pain was but a slight twinge and I was back to a much more dynamic stroke on my left oar. If only I had two spare locks with me I would have switched both. It was strange rowing with one lock that gripped the oar and one that let it slide but completely enlightening to me.

So my conclusions are that for now, I'm going back to "normal" locks and in the near future I'm going to try out some pro-loks. I talked to the owner and he said he'd make me a pair oversized to fit my large diameter shafts. Lastly, I can't imagine how screwed up my elbow would be if I rowed with oar rights or some other blade fixing system.

So, anyone want some Cobra's? - Just two years old...

I just thought I'd pass on my observations, might help folks trying to decide, might give ideas to folks with elbow and/or wrist pain: i.e. if your running fixed blades, try free and vice-versa.

Flame - away!
 

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Inefficient Cobras

I had a similar experience with my Cobras. I rowed for days on Cat. It was low water ,100 degrees, and windy kinda like camping in a hair dryer on high. My elbows , wrists, back and shoulders hurt. Around mile 70 I switched the Cobras out for single Mercury 3.5 and boy what difference.
 

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I doubt it is the Cobras. Most of the time it is due to using a high back seat that doesn't allow your body to move properly. You shouldn't be pushing a boat with your elbows. The rest of the time it is poor geometry in the rowers compartment especially on adjustable frames,bad technique or oar rights. People get to tinkering and don't realize all the aspects they are throwing off or have never spent a full 14 hour day rowing a boat setup correctly so have no reference to the correct geometry. Another biggie is people are setting their towers too far forward, another elbow killer, the oars shouldn't be flailing in front of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I doubt it is the Cobras. Most of the time it is due to using a high back seat that doesn't allow your body to move properly. You shouldn't be pushing a boat with your elbows. The rest of the time it is poor geometry in the rowers compartment especially on adjustable frames,bad technique or oar rights. People get to tinkering and don't realize all the aspects they are throwing off or have never spent a full 14 hour day rowing a boat setup correctly so have no reference to the correct geometry. Another biggie is people are setting their towers too far forward, another elbow killer, the oars shouldn't be flailing in front of you.
All valid points on boat set up, but in this case I know it was the combination of the cobras and the oars resulting in a sticky, hard to spin set up. I'm not new to this game and have been tweaking my setup for years. I've rowed hundreds of rigs and this boat is set up correctly for me. It probably wouldn't be for you. Some of the elbow problem does come from bad posture and lazy rowing - which was promoted by the stiff set up - Just hunker in and deal with it mentality. What I noticed (and stated above) was that when I left the cobra's and went to a more traditional lock if found my whole oar-stroke more dynamic, what I didn't get into was that I also noticed that I was moving my body more and using longer strokes - which I view as being related to the act of feathering and feeling the water. I got back to my roots in other words - just by changing an oar lock.

If it were geometry related, changing the locks wouldn't have fixed it. If it were due to seat back height - no change... the only changes was locks and there was a profound difference. It doesn't matter if my frame was a custom welded work of art or 2x4's bolted together; in this case the oar locks made a huge difference in how I rowed, which changed my rowing style, felt geometry, posture and feel of the water. All this with no change in frame geometry.

I agree that geometry, seatbacks, foot bars, oar length, handle placement, tower placement and a myriad of other things all effect efficiency and comfort, but my comments relate just to an observation between two types of oar locks. Lets not change it into a battle of the frames.
 

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So what you said in there was the point, using your body down into the hip muscles. Almost always a high back seat prevents that correct motion. The frame doesn't matter if it's made from fir branches lashed together as long as they are all lashed in the correct geometry. The cobra oarlock was designed for an extended range of motion and feathering the oars and in my opinion is far superior to any other open oarlock for adaptability to any river condition from fishing to huge water so it doesn't equate that you got a better range of motion out of a different oar lock. If you have it fixed then excellent run what works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Exactly - I'm happy with my fix for now. I was just trying to pass on my observations as I was shocked how much of a difference the change made. So much so that I thought others might appreciate the idea. I'm not bashing Cobra's, I just discovered they're not for me and I've chatted with quite a few folks in the past year that left them for essentially the same reason.

Long story short, I just wanted to illustrate that sometimes small changes can make huge differences. don't hesitate to try...I sure wish I had months ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
...The cobra oarlock was designed for an extended range of motion and feathering the oars and in my opinion is far superior to any other open oarlock for adaptability to any river condition from fishing to huge water so it doesn't equate that you got a better range of motion out of a different oar lock....
I wanted to address this separately...

I've thought about this and it wasn't physically limiting my range of motion, the problem was that it was harder to roll the oar (feather) due toa combination of the rope wrap, rib on the bottom of the cobra and large diameter oars. So in order to feather the oar at the beginning and end of the stroke you had to strongly roll your wrist - it took fairly serious effort. So much so that over time I started rolling less and less. That over time put stress on my elbow (a specific tendon, that I have no idea the name of). To lessen this stress, my stroke got shorter, as this got worse, I just started sitting there pushing from the my chest - exacerbating the elbow problem.... Yada yada yada, the sticky oar locks totally screwed up my rowing geometry.... Yes I could have fixed other aspects (smaller rope wrap, smaller oars, opening the locks more, mentally maintain posture and feathering) but for various reasons the change away from the cobra was the simplest.
 

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Can't you spread the horns a little to give the oars some room? My cobra's are not tight on my oars, but I have plastic collars not rope wrap.
 

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You can also apply parafin wax to the rope wraps to decrease the friction. You can get a lifetime supply anywhere they have canning supplies.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Can't you spread the horns a little to give the oars some room? My cobra's are not tight on my oars, but I have plastic collars not rope wrap.
I have, they are better when they are open like that, but not great and I still like the lock to hold the oar a bit below the wrap. So even when they're really too open they still bite. I have another set of oars, same diameter but older much more worn and they cobra's work fine with them, but they're 9' and I like my newer 10'. My guess is the main problem is the rope wrap is slightly over sized... maybe sawyer got a deal on some slightly oversized rope...(I got the oars at one of their sales). In the end there is just too much volume inside the cobra's.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You can also apply parafin wax to the rope wraps to decrease the friction. You can get a lifetime supply anywhere they have canning supplies.
Tried it - better but not right. Actually I tried ski wax but same idea.
 

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I rowed commercially for a long time and towards the end started getting really bad elbow pain. Once it started, it didn't matter what types of oar lock I was using, even rowed for another company that ran pins and clips and it was still happening. Had a doc on my boat one day and they said I had the equivalent of tennis elbow and suggested trying a brace. I did, and it instantly took care of the pain. I think I paid $30 for a brace ten years ago, still use it.

Sucks not being 21 anymore huh.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
True. I think the "not 21 anymore" attitude is why I didn't switch things up soon enough. It took getting frustrated on super windy day to push me over the edge and I'm glad it finally did. Maybe I'll have a few more years left now...(before a brace, permanent pain, etc.) As I said, just getting full range of motion back to my wrist fixed my elbow. no innuendo intended.
 

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The larger diameter oars can make a difference too. The friction between lock and wrap at a larger diameter takes more torque to overcome than the normal diameter oars. I like my wimpy skinny oars.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The larger diameter oars can make a difference too. The friction between lock and wrap at a larger diameter takes more torque to overcome than the normal diameter oars. I like my wimpy skinny oars.
Yeah, if I had it to do over again I wouldn't get the bigger oars. I'd go smaller for lots of reasons, but mostly compatibility. I have a couple pair now, so it's not going to change any time soon unfortunately.
 

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Yeah, if I had it to do over again I wouldn't get the bigger oars. I'd go smaller for lots of reasons, but mostly compatibility. I have a couple pair now, so it's not going to change any time soon unfortunately.
Elkhaven are you telling me after all this you have the large diameter oar shafts lol. If so no wonder ,I don't know what you row but I am guessing not a 18 or 20' gear boat. Also just recently the Cobras have a new tumbled finish making them way smoother. We use to polish out the insides just to butter stuff up, not needed on the new ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Elkhaven are you telling me after all this you have the large diameter oar shafts lol. If so no wonder ,I don't know what you row but I am guessing not a 18 or 20' gear boat. Also just recently the Cobras have a new tumbled finish making them way smoother. We use to polish out the insides just to butter stuff up, not needed on the new ones.
Your not a very thorough reader are you? I stated that on the first paragraph. I've been running them for 10 years, sound have gotten rid of them with my last boat but didn't. I'm not throwing in for new oars at this point, so it really doesn't matter what I run.
 

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Your not a very thorough reader are you? I stated that on the first paragraph. I've been running them for 10 years, sound have gotten rid of them with my last boat but didn't. I'm not throwing in for new oars at this point, so it really doesn't matter what I run.
I'll be damned yup there it is, could have saved myself a bunch of typing today. I usually see all these concoctions of gear in person to trouble shoot. Not much of an internet superhero really.
 

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Maybe you should try oarlocks like us non-refined boaters. :-D

So I've also been thinking of going to the prolocks. As I understand them, they will end your feathering right?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Maybe you should try oarlocks like us non-refined boaters. :-D

So I've also been thinking of going to the prolocks. As I understand them, they will end your feathering right?
No Colby, there is a detent but you can still feather your ass off.
 
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