Which length of Cataract oar should I purchase?

Oar length is largely a matter of preference. Proper fit, in terms of oar length, is subjective. We can, however, offer some very general advice that may guide your decision of which oar length to purchase. Note that you, the end user, are responsible for choosing the length that best fits your individual rowing style, physiology and attitude. To this end, we highly recommend trying friends' oars, renting oars from a local dealer for trial runs, or visiting a showroom or store operated by the maker of your raft, cataraft, drift boat or whathaveyou. Generally, a boatmaker or raftmaker will have their own specific guidance regarding oar lengths to accompany their craft.

Choosing an oar length for rafts.

Though whitewater rafts come in many styles from many notable manufacturers, there is one key measurement that you will need to pay attention to in your choice of oar length.

The frame width of the raft will largely determine your needed oar length.

Measure the width of your raft's frame. That is, the distance between the two oar locks. Then, refer to the following table to divine your recommended Cataract Oars length. Voila! Note that oar lengths refer to the total assembled oar (shaft and blade combined).

Cataract Oars Recommended Oar Length for Rafts
Raft Frame Width, Inches Recommended Oar Length, Feet
60 8-9
66 9-10
72 10-11

Choosing an oar length for drift boats.Hyde-drift-boat-near-Tetons-with-black-Cataract-Oars-composite-SGG-oars

When selecting a drift boat oar length, a similar set of concerns will apply as with rafting oars. Since drift boats really are their own beast, however, we at Cataract Oars have seen fit to give them their own oar length treatment.

Drift boat beam width will, to a large degree, determine your choice of oar length.

The breadth of your drift boat's beam is key. As with rafts, above, measure the distance between the oar locks of your drift boat. That's your drift boat beam width. Then, refer to the table below. Note that oar lengths refer to the total oar: shaft and blade assembled.

Cataract Oars Recommended Oar Length for Drift Boats
Drift Boat Beam Width, Inches Recommended Oar Length, Feet
60-70 8-9
70-80 9-10
80-90 10-11

The oar length Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds offers another tool to help you assess the right oar length for your setup. This rule states that you will generally want one third of your oar inside your oar lock, two-thirds outside. For most rowers, the Rule of Thirds provides an optimal oar swing. If you figure out what length of oar shaft you want to push on the inside of your oar locks, the Rule of Thirds will tell you what length you want outside. Times your desired inner shaft length by three for a total oar length. Use the Rule of Thirds less as gospel and more as gentle advice that you may or may not want to follow. Better yet, use it along with manufacturer (boat or raft) recommendations and the above tabled guidelines to triangulate. And, of course—and we cannot emphasize this enough—use personal experience as the ultimate determinant. Get out and row some oars and see how you like their feel. Go to a boat or raft showroom and sit in the craft with oars of various lengths. You'll get it figured out. And when you do, you'll have that much more fun on the river with your Cataract Oars perfectly matched to your own personal criteria.