To big blade, or not to big blade

It's July, and if you're in the northern hemisphere you're probably hot, sweating, and not thinking about rowing in the Fall. But before you know it, you or your team will be . . . rowing that is, and that means changes.

A bunch of changes . . . such as length of racing (2K to 5K); amount of practice time to prepare (sometimes only 3 weeks of prep in the Fall compared to weeks upon weeks in the Spring); and rigging . . . it needs to be changed (see January's newsletter which is archieved at <> for a discussion on that).

At our boathouse we have plans to make a significant change this Fall, in that we will be sculling almost the entire time, with little or no sweep rowing.


Young rowers need to focus on basic boat moving skills, and I believe that sculling is one of the best ways to teach those skills.

In our boathouse we have a wealth of sculling oars with Macon blades. And so I wanted to know, should I retrofit those oars (all are CII oars) to Big Blades, or should I keep them as Macons.

I had my opinion, but I wanted to search out others for their opinions. I asked two friends who are prominient coaches. Both voiced the exact same opinion, "If the rowers are new," they both said, "or relatively new to the sport, stay with the Macon oars. They will teach the rowers how to row better."

That statement struck me as hard Bobby Pierce's snowball with the special "ice/rock center" did one winter.

"The Macons teach the rowers how to row better." Get out!

It seems that often we run off to buy the latest, greatest, just-off-the-mill-got-to-have-it-thing without looking at what the "new" thing might be missing or lacking.

You see, to row with a Macon oar the rower has to be able to lock the oar into the water. If he doesn't, then he will wash out . . . wildly. The design of the blade demands that the rower learns that skill.

A Big Blade design doesn't "demand" that of a rower. Indeed a Big Blade has its benefits, but if a rower doesn't know how to lock the oar into the water, the benefit of the blade is wasted.

And so I pulled out a video of my team, and watched them row, with a focus on washing out. And, yup, it was there. Not everywhere, but enough to probably make a difference.

So . . . I am going to experiment this Fall, and  to stay with the Macon oars. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.