After seven years of talking on the beaches, followed by agreement that we would investigate the possibility of a standard oar, a survey of clubs and rowers and careful measurement of the best current oars, the international group that has been set up to report on a standard oar design has between them designed several new oars and have built or are building seven prototype oars and two prototype oarlock systems. The prototypes are being used and alpha tested and the next task of the group is to narrow the designs down to one system. Once again we thank those who have put in considerable effort to this exercise.
Members of the group will try all the designs as much as possible and then write up their views and rank the designs. The group will then choose one system to recommend for “beta” testing. Beta testing will involve some clubs attempting to build a set of oars to the standard design, and reporting back on the ease of build and consistency of the finished product. Those clubs would then be asked to use their set of standard oars and oarlocks in recreation, training and competition, and be open to hosting skiffies from other clubs to allow as many rowers as possible to try out the system under test before any decision is made around whether or not to adopt it.
Some of the prototypes have features which are currently outwith the St Ayles Measurement Rules (paragraphs 3 and 7) specifically the use of non-compliant materials in the oarlocks and the use of spoon blades. If those prototypes are put forward for beta testing the SCRA committee will grant exemption certificates for those features for the clubs undertaking the testing on behalf of SCRA. The existing measurement rules will continue in force for all oars and oarlocks that are not part of the approved beta testing. If the decision in the long run is not to approve a standard oar, it will be relatively simple to convert the oars to flat blades in which case they will meet the current measurement rules. Potential beta testers should not therefore be put off by the risk of being left with a set of obsolete oars at the end of this season. However beta testers are taking the risk that they will have to change blades, and perhaps oarlocks, if the subsequent decision goes against adopting a new standard design.
If your club wishes to be one of a small number to be involved in beta testing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . The single design decision will be made in a few weeks (the group need some time to finish and evaluate all the single oar prototypes).