How to choose oars, by Jim Dreher

Dreher has a track record of blade design innovation (see link for papers on each new design introduced since January 1997)  

In this article, Jim Dreher discusses his latest design, the Apex Round spoon, and how to decide whether this design will suit your rowing or sculling style.

 Jim Dreher


The key to deciding whether the round blade shape will make you go faster than the Apex is to know how you row. 

If you have a quick catch and pull on the oar you’ll have good success with the round oars.  If you row the blade in – the surface area increases as it buries – use Apex which is the biggest blade possible within the Dreher range. 

If your athletes row well we advise them to take advantage of the Apex Round shape and make a rigging adjustment to further enhance the impact of its design on boat speed. We recommend you adjust the rig so you scull through the pin further forward and take a shorter blade length, we recommend 284 cm.  Even C2 recommend the same thing for their fat smoothie.

Remember, people adapt to a piece of equipment.  Any change feels new and different.

For a club it’s hard to recommend a single blade design.  The German system is rigid with a specified blade size for touring rowing and children have to use the maçon shape.  Each club has their reasons for choosing what they do.  I would choose a mix of blades and thus enable people to use those they like best. 

A large number of veterans like to use the round blades and they are rowing them short and they have wide spans because as you age you aren’t as strong but you want to keep the rating up.  This gives more advantage where you can maintain a higher rating for the 1,000m race veteran distance race. 

Recreational rowers can use any of the blades – the round blade is very forgiving because it comes out clean.  I have been using the rounds with some lightweight men in our club.  Those with the highest skill get the most benefit.



High Modulus Round scull spoon  REX               

The Apex Round spoon                           The Apex REX spoon

(both shown in High Modulus carbon weave design)


We recommend that novices use the rounds as well, because it teaches better stroke technique, and doesn’t allow the rower to develop bad habits that a hatchet blade might.

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