i have an old town discovery 160k canoe that is setup with oar locks. can anyone recommend a rowing oar length for this canoe? distance between the oar locks is 40 inches. estimates i've calculated from other sources vary from 5 feet (which sounds way too short) to 6.5 feet. i've read that some people use 7 foot oars on canoes with only 38 inches between the oar locks but i don't know if that's something that should be followed. old town's website only sells 6.5 feet and 7 feet oars so i'm guessing i need one of those sizes--i emailed old town but haven't gotten a response yet. thanks.
7 ft oars
looks like 7 foot oars… response from old town canoes…
“When it comes to selecting an oar length for your canoe, it typically can come down to personal preference depending on who you ask. For any canoe 15’ to 17’, we suggest a 7’ oar.”
Used to scull with a 60 inch span and
I think the sculls were about 10 feet.
It might take some fiddling to get the oarlock span and the oar length optimised. Scullers have some overlap of the scull handles, so one oarlock is higher to allow the handles and hands to clear. Most other rowing setups don’t include overlap, but I think the hands and grips should pass as close together as possible without risking jamming a thumb.
7’ okay, but 8’ is better
I really don't know why, but it seems that no one rows a canoe with oars longer than 7 feet, but I think that 7 feet is the absolute minimun length and that 8 feet is better. You will have a few inches of overlap with 8-foot oars, but that's easy to get used to. The 8-foot oars will be more efficient because the portion of the stroke where most of the power comes from will include less deviation in thrust direction than 7-foot oars. In other words, a smaller proportion of each stroke will deliver thrust inward or outward instead of straight toward the rear. You can really feel the difference.
I always recommend against putting one oarlock higher than the other for boats like this, because it is a huge advantage for the rowing setup to be symetrical if you are not a racer or fitness rower. Having the ability to cross your hands in any way that you choose and being able to lean the boat in either direction adds so much versatility in boat-handling that I'd never want to reduce that ability by putting one oarlock higher than the other. There are four ways to cross your hands when rowing, any of which work when the boat is level, but only two of those methods can be used when leaning the boat to the right, and the other two methods are used when leaning the boat to the left. Leaning the boat is very helpful in strong crosswinds and for turns, and obviously you want to be able to deal wind from any direction and be able to turn right or left with equal ease.
have less leverage on longer oars
It seems to me that longer oars would be like bicycle peddling in a higher gear. I am assuming that only the distance beyond the oarlocks increases. So preferred stroke rate would go down and resistance would go up with longer oars
Notice the remarks about how using longer oars increases the overlap at the handles, and how g2d's super-long oars on his old sculling shell overlapped even though the oarlocks were about five feet apart. On all oars I've seen with pre-mounted oarlocks, the ratio of inboard length to outboard length is about the same, meaning that the force applied to the handles that is needed to generate a certain amount of propulsive thrust by the blades is the same regardless of length. In such a case, the longer oar simply goes through fewer degrees of arc for a given "length of pull" on the handles, which is the reason for the greater efficiency that I mentioned in my post above (something which would not be the case if only the outboard length were greater on a longer oar).
You can also buy oars on which the oarlocks can be placed anywhere you choose, so what I wrote above is not a "rule". It is a good guideline though, and it's something that seems to be the case for "most" oars of any length with permanently attached hardware.
thanks for all the replies. interesting info!
7 ft oars
got the 7 foot carlisle oars and they are working great. thanks all!