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I just watched an episode of gear garage and Zach was saying to figure out oar length he uses the distance from oarlock to oarlock times 1.63. I have a 15' NRS with an NRS frame and 8" towers and my oars are not nearly as long as that calculation would have me get. I like how they feel and the height in front of me is good but I know I would get more leverage with longer oars what are you guys running and what do you think?
 

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I have a 65.5 inch wide DRE frame (for Aire 143R), but oarlock to oarlock it is probably 70 inches. I use 9.5 foot oars and it feels perfect to me. I've never heard of this 1.63 rule, but plugging in by this rule it it comes out to predict 9.5 feet oars.

I also use a 54 inch wide frame on my super puma, but oarlock to oarlock is probably about 58-60 inches wide. I use 8.5 foot oars and again these feel perfect. Using the 1.63 measurement you mention, that would predict an 8.0 foot oar. I had previously tried 8.0 foot oars on this setup, and while it worked, the oar strokes were too short and choppy for my taste (I am 6'2" and have long arms).
 

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Yeah, I watched that as well. I’ve thought for a few years that my oars were too short. I run both an NRS 14’ Otter with 9’ oars and an Aire 156R with 9’6” oars. Both rafts have big frames and we usually carry too much crap and people. I know that a fully loaded raft isn’t going to be a sports car, but I was hoping for some better handling. I run the Deschutes and other Oregon rivers pretty often, so not much bigger than class III. I sit on dry boxes and have 8” Oar towers.

On my last trip I put 14” extensions on my 9’ Sawyers while running the 156R. So 10’2” oars. I loved the added leverage(?) or feel of it. After watching Zachs video I measured my oarlock center to center and found that both rafts oars are probably short. Sigh. More gear.

Sawyer makes a quality oar extension, but they make the end of the oar heavy. In the future I’ll buy 10’ oar shafts for the 156R and run the 9’6” oars on the 14’ boat.
 

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I think how you prefer your oar grips relative to center is important.. I prefer to over lap about 5 inches, some people like shoulder width apart. I use 9.5' polecats locally in Gunnison county and 10' MXS on bigger volume rivers. I run my 14 ft RMR down the Taylor at 300 cfs, so I like a shorter oar, but loaded with gear I prefer the leverage of a longer oar.. can't remember what the oarlock to oarlock is on a DRE Gunnison frame.
 

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Question. Please don't tear me apart... but everyone talks about having better leverage with longer oars. Isn't the opposite of that true though? Wouldn't the longer oar length beyond the tower actually work against you the longer you go?

(I run 9.5' oars on my 156R with 10" towers)
 

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I think the best way to look at it is, if you are 1/3 handle to oar lock and 2/3 oarlock to blade. Than every pound of pull you do the Oar blade gets 1/2 of pound of force applied to the water more or less.1/4 to 3/4 would be 1# to 1/3#. At the same time 1/3 to 2/3rds would when pulling the oar 1 foot, the blade would move 2 foot in the water. 1/4 to 3/4 handle to blade would move blade 1 foot to 3 . The stronger rower you are the longer the oars you can row with. I'm old and not as strong a rower as I used to be. So no more 1/4 to 3/4 or so, more 1/3 to 2/3rds, heading for 2/5 to 3/5 with no more kitchen box or full groovers soon. The only thing worst than getting old, is NOT. Now everyone will tear me apart instead of you.
 

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I started rafting years ago with about two thumb widths between oar handles as I read that somewhere (many years before Al Gore invented the internet so probably in some book on rafting). Later, I read that optimum for strength is about shoulder width i.e. your hands would be in similar position as a bench press. That makes more sense to me so I moved my oars out to this wider position and after getting used to the new position it seems natural to me now.
 

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I think how you prefer your oar grips relative to center is important.. I prefer to over lap about 5 inches, some people like shoulder width apart. I use 9.5' polecats locally in Gunnison county and 10' MXS on bigger volume rivers. I run my 14 ft RMR down the Taylor at 300 cfs, so I like a shorter oar, but loaded with gear I prefer the leverage of a longer oar.. can't remember what the oarlock to oarlock is on a DRE Gunnison frame.
Grip width relative to center is super important!!! If you overlap them that's more leverage inside the oarlock.

I started rafting years ago with about two thumb widths between oar handles as I read that somewhere (many years before Al Gore invented the internet so probably in some book on rafting). Later, I read that optimum for strength is about shoulder width i.e. your hands would be in similar position as a bench press. That makes more sense to me so I moved my oars out to this wider position and after getting used to the new position it seems natural to me now.
I've run everything from overlapping to shoulder width. I do know you should absolutely avoid either touching handles or thumb-width spacing so you don't smash your thumbs!!
If you row shoulder width, go shorter oars so you don't have so much leverage/weight outside the oarlocks.

Question. Please don't tear me apart... but everyone talks about having better leverage with longer oars. Isn't the opposite of that true though? Wouldn't the longer oar length beyond the tower actually work against you the longer you go?
(I run 9.5' oars on my 156R with 10" towers)
You're correct. Longer oars = higher gearing, less leverage. Shorter oars = lower gearing, more leverage.

I run 10' oars on my 156R with 10" towers. Oarlocks are about 82" apart.
10' oars on my 17' dory with oarlocks ~79" apart.

I think the best way to look at it is, if you are 1/3 handle to oar lock and 2/3 oarlock to blade. Than every pound of pull you do the Oar blade gets 1/2 of pound of force applied to the water more or less.1/4 to 3/4 would be 1# to 1/3#. At the same time 1/3 to 2/3rds would when pulling the oar 1 foot, the blade would move 2 foot in the water. 1/4 to 3/4 handle to blade would move blade 1 foot to 3 . The stronger rower you are the longer the oars you can row with. I'm old and not as strong a rower as I used to be. So no more 1/4 to 3/4 or so, more 1/3 to 2/3rds, heading for 2/5 to 3/5 with no more kitchen box or full groovers soon. The only thing worst than getting old, is NOT. Now everyone will tear me apart instead of you.
Me, too. I'm at 1/3 (33% inboard), moving toward 2/5 (40% inboard). That 1.63 number gives you about 3/10-7/10 (25% inboard)


And using your same rationale, you can see how much difference blade weight makes. A 1# lighter blade is like running a 2# counterweight at the handle.
 

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My oarlocks are 76" apart on my SOTAR 16'.
It took a fair amount of convincing to get Sawyer to make me 10'6" ash dynalites, vs the 10' that "Everyone uses on 16' boats" but I absolutely love them. Can't imagine going back to 10' oars, now.
I've used them on everything from a mid-level technical Illinois trip, Scott, Cal Salmon trips to high water Main Salmon.
I run my handles about 3" apart, when they're horizontal.

Ben
 

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