Monday, 23 July 2012

Aluminium oars

I've never used aluminium blades much before. Aluminium was at one time going to provide the modern alternative to wood, but the availability of carbon fibre at reasonable prices put paid to that.
Aluminium is still used where the primary needs are economy and indestructibility, as in the Virus Yole we tried out recently (picture right). They are very horrid, both to look at and to row with.
So when Langstone Cutters' new Solent galley Church Ope arrived from Portland on Saturday and we saw the aluminium blades she came with, we reacted with disgust. And alarm - what will our traditionally-minded and plain-speaking boatswain say about them when he gets back from his sailing expedition next week?
But these are very different from the nasty yole scaffolding poles. They were made by Aylings for a start, a respected maker of racing kit. They are tapered nicely and have proper Macon blades. The cavity is filled with foam and they have wooden handles. Oddly, they feel a bit heavier than our wooden oars.
We were all surprised by how effective they are in action. They are very stiff and the Macon blade bites harder in the water than our traditional narrower blades. Nobody has actually said they prefer them to the wooden oars but there was definitely a groundswell of approval...what will our bo'sun say?


O Docker said...

You can always toss them.

doryman said...

Where I live, river rats use aluminum oars on their drift boats. They have fiberglass looms and are very heavy. I borrowed a pair last April for a few minutes and was beaten near to death by them.
Sounds like yours worked out much better.
I have two sets of carbon fiber oars and they are heavier than the spruce oars too. Over a long haul I'll take a set of light wood oars any day, which is probably what your bo'sun will say.

Unknown said...

With the ready supply of ex fine boat carbon blades aluminium ones would seem a step backwards to me.
Got to be durable though!

Chris Partridge said...

I tend to agree, Keith, and we wouldn't have bought them if they hadn't come with the boat. But now we have them, I suppose they will get used. Second hand wooden oars seem to be getting harder to find.