As owners of sail-and-oar boats know all too well, it’s often difficult or impossible to conveniently stow proper-length oars aboard. Do you leave them sticking over the transom where they can snag sheets and docklines, angled down under foot in the cockpit, or in some other equally awkward location?
The best solution, of course, is a two-piece oar that can be broken down and reassembled as needed. At Duckworks we’ve sold loads of our two-piece carbon-fiber ferrules that can be used to convert standard wooden-shaft oars into two pieces—a decent solution—but about a year ago we asked the question: what would the perfect oars look like? Well, we think we have the answer to that question.
Our new XPL Oars feature 2-piece carbon-fiber shafts—incredibly strong, and featherweight. Even a few unnecessary ounces begin to add up on a long row, so we skipped the heavier fiberglass option, and stuck with full carbon fiber. We also chose carbon construction because we’ve suffered with fiberglass and other composite shafts flexing and losing energy with each spongy stroke.
Our ferrule connection uses a simple stainless button that locks firmly in place at a push—no messing with plastic mechanisms, screwdrivers, or other hassles. We recognize that when you need yours oars you just might need them right away.
We considered a variety of blade shapes, including the hatchet style common on sport rowing boats, but expert ocean rowers we consulted with advised that traditional spoon blades are preferred in a seaway where their sleeker shape is less likely to catch on wavetops. And being made from carbon fiber, the XPL blades can be made much thinner and less turbulence-inducing than a conventional wooden blade.
The simple answer for handles was to go with the plastic type with the foam grips commonly seen in sport rowing, but as we discovered in conversations with ocean-crossing rowers, a natural, soft wood is actually the preferred choice for the hand. Our oars feature light, smooth, basswood handles mated to their carbon fiber shafts—carbon performance with real wood in your hands for a better feel.
XPL Oars are available cut to any custom length from 6 feet to 9’6", and shipping costs will be greatly reduced because of the two-piece breakdown feature.
We sent the demo set up to renowned adventure rower Colin Angus. His comments below:
"I just did the unboxing. Wow, you guys did an amazing job! To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting them to be as high-end as they are. I have my super high-end carbon fiber (popular brand) oars as a direct comparison, and this is how they compare:
1) Length: Identical
2) Weight: Yours only weigh 0.8 oz more, despite having the huge bonus of the ferrule. They are incredibly light!
3) Flex: Flex on both of them is about the same - very minimal.
4) Blade: Yours are nicer - slightly more elegantly shaped, and the carbon fiber looks beautiful - it's the most effective area for showing off the carbon fiber. The (popular brand) oars, I believe, are painted fiberglass blades, so look much more plain. Additionally, Theirs are made from laminating over some kind of foam, so they are very fat at the edges, while yours are nice and thin, without losing stiffness. The thinner edges of yours will result in a cleaner entry.
5) Shafts: Overall shaft profile is very similar,
6) Ferrule: (popular brand) doesn't have this, of course, Yours fit together smoothly and easily.
In summary, I think you guys have done a marvellous job, and there's nothing offhand, that I think could be improved. I'm confident that your oars will make ideal sculling oars (as well as fixed seat in the shorter versions). It's amazing you've managed to make them break apart without any penalties.
In our oar recommendations on Angus Rowboats, we'll put them at the top of the list."
One interesting consideration with carbon oars is how to sleeve them. Naturally one could add leathers or use rope wraps, and we’ll be offering them with the usual large sculling-style sleeves and collars, but we wanted another good simple solution and we think we nailed it.
After a ton of research we found some black extra-heavy-duty shrink tubing that makes wonderful sleeving for our 1.75” diameter oars. We cut the tubing to length and slipped it over our polypropylene Sea Dog collars and applied with the heat-shrink process. Looks fantastic and it’s very durable. The finished diameter will be a little large for some existing metal oarlocks, but it pairs beautifully with $28 Gaco oarlocks. The all-black combination is light and extremely smooth.
Add our rubber sleeve kit (checkbox above) for $30
Click HERE to see the simple instructions for installing these collars.
Add Gaco’s 1/2” Oarlock HERE
HERE is an instructional article on determining oar length.
Shaw and Tenney have used THIS method siince 1858.