I have been building St Ayles Skiff oars for five years now, always aiming to improve
and fine tune my build method to provide an all round better oar. What is most important
is stiffness and weight. A stiff oar produces more power - though not too stiff as
that causes strain on the rower. A light oar is easier to use and wastes less energy.
I have made a change to my build method this year to use a heavier timber inboard.
This increases the overall weight but reduces the rowing weight, so during the recovery
in particular the oar is lighter and the rower is expending less energy.
My standard construction is:
Handles - oak, 39mm diameter x 40cm.
Loom, inboard - oak/Douglas Fir sandwich, 70-75mm x 45mm
Loom outboard - Western Red Cedar/DF sandwich, tapering to blade.
Blade - WRC sandwich with hardwood trim on the sides and tip.
Standard rectangular blade size - 85cm x 12cm.
Macon blade - maximum 60cm x 21cm.
In rough conditions a narrow/small blade works well. For calm conditions there may
be a case for a larger blade.
Examples of sets of oars:
3 x 3.8m, 1 x 3.65m . Weight around 5.2kg
3 x 4.1m, 1 x 3.8m. Weight around 5.5kg - suggested for new clubs
2 x 4.3m, 1 x 4.1m, 1 x 4m. Weight 5.7kg
2 x 4.7m, 1 x 4.4m, 1 x 4.15m. Weight 6.4kg.
My feeling is that for recreational rowing or lighter crews a shorter oar works fine.
For strong fit rowers a longer oar may give a little more power, however in rough
windy conditions they can be difficult.
For competitive rowing you also need to have the skiff set up right. Seating spaced
further out than the plans, rowers sitting offset, solid footrests with toe straps
and a good mounting system for the oars with no slop.
St. Ayles Skiff oars
To date I have made oars (Junior and/or Composite) for most of the Northern Ireland
clubs; Ardglass, Black Neb (Kircubbin), Donaghadee, Portaferry, Portavogie, Killyleagh
RC, Killyleagh YC, Sketrick, Strangford and Whitehead.
Scottish clubs: Annan, Avoch, Collieston, Cromaty, Devron, Dundee, FOCCRC, Gospie,
Lossiemouth, Royal West and Wigtown Bay.
Am happy to say there have been quite a few of medals of all shades in the world
Most clubs have had a couple of sets or more so around 40 sets so far.