I have been rather busy lately doing oar renovations for a number of clubs and individuals. While doing this I have had a few conversations with people who are not happy with their current oars, yet do not see the value in paying money to change this.
We all know that everyone wants new shiny equipment, but new shiny parts will often do exactly the same job for a fraction of the cost!
No one seems to be surprised that cars often need new tyres, and drivers with any experience know that new rubber makes a lot of difference to the safety and performance of a car. Why does that concept often fail to transfer to rowing equipment?
The sleeves, collars, and handles of oars are all ‘wear’ items. They all are worn down by use until the oar is left uncomfortable or difficult to use. Worn sleeves lead to pitch and feathering problems. Collars can slip and even get caught on the oarlock. Handles beyond their use by date can cause blisters or just be uncomfortable to use.
All can be replaced cheaply and simply. You don’t need specialist tools and a reasonably competent person with ‘DIY’ skills can do it. The leading oar makers even provide detailed step-by-step manuals and demonstration videos.
With a new sleeve and collar, an old oar will lock on and then square or feather like a new.
The oar makers themselves are often surprised by how few people actually do renovation work to their oars.
Strangely, I have noticed that it is often the better resourced clubs (those who can afford experienced coaches and boatmen) who take the most advantage of the savings to be made by renovating oars. The less well off clubs who most need it often lack the knowledge to even consider it.
If you are a club who has a tight budget, please do not forget to consider the economy of oar renovations. Very few rowers can tell a new oar shaft from an old one when rowing, but they can tell you if it doesn’t feather properly or tears up their hands.