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Spar varnish in a rattle can is the easiest and works well. Choose your brand, but Helmsman has worked for me.

Oh yeah, hand sand first, get off all the loose finish.

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I just started this myself, the annual springtime prep of my oars to get ready for a trip next month. It's simple, following Cataract's recommendation here:

Spar Refinishing of Cataract Oars Composite Oar Shafts

My method is to lightly sand the oars with 220 paper at first and in between 2 or 3 coats. I wipe with a damp cloth to get the sanding dust off.

The oars will look great afterwards, and there will be no tiny fiberglass pieces irritating my arms.
 

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I would recommend using Spar Varnish as per Elkhaven's recommendation. Urethane is extremely tough but along with that is the fact that it is very brittle and not meant to flex. Oars flex, correct??? Use a Spar Varnish which is meant to flex, which will reduce how often you need to refinish the oars...this is why sailors use this product on wood boats and it is the same product that Sawyer uses on their wood oars as well their paddles. Whether the product is Spar Varnish or Spar Urethane, both will have UV inhibitors...that is what the "spar" indicates in most cases. While the Spar Varnish is superior, if you cannot get it the Spar Urethane will do the trick just doesn't last as long and you will see cracking and chipping quicker than with varnish.

If you want to get rid of the "itch" that you get with your Cataracts....send them to Sawyer and they can refinish them such that the fiberglass will not come out. Will not be as glossy as they were, but you will end up with no itch and a killer rope wrap! Just allow yourself some time as they can get pretty backlogged on repairs.
 
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