Had a fantastic conference call last night with Jim Dreher and Coleen Fuerst of Durham Boat. Discussing the importance of Aspect Ratio in oar spoon design.
They have measured each of the 7 spoon shapes they make and are using this to plot the progression an athlete can take through the various designs as they mature physically and in rowing/sculling skill. Aspect Ratio contributes significantly to hydrodynamic lift.
I really like this – Jim's idea that you can draw a plot-line for an athlete taking them from a novice to extremely skilled and how their strength and skills adapt and change.
Jim is particularly interested in teaching his athletes how to take very quick catches from their first sculling and rowing lessons. He has been measuring the guys he was coaching last summer (USA 4x and pan-American Games 4x and 2x) and looking at the angle of the oar at full reach compared to the angle when the spoon is in the water and engaged/loaded. He found that for the top men, they "lose" about 1 – 2 degrees on the catch angle. Compared to some other athletes coached in the national team program who were losing over 5 degrees.
Note:this is the physical movement of the oar/scull shaft PLUS the slip in the water from the point of insertion of the spoon to when it engages with the water and the athlete starts to accelerate the boat.
He found that his athletes could cope well with shorter shafts and the Apex Round and Apex REX spoon shapes whereas the others just went loads slower using these.
Jim's thesis is that coaches need to consider BOTH technique and equipment and how they coach both how to use the equipment and the technical adaptations needed. In this weay they can adapt an athlete into a crew so that the crew can optimise their efforts.
And that resonates for me.