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Sculls length for Masters sculler

What is the best measurements for sculling blades, & how do you best decide how far away should … read more

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What is the best measurements for sculling blades, & how do you best decide how far away should your foot stretcher be?

Two slick blade sculls. The "blades"...
Two slick blade sculls. The “blades” are at the top of the picture and the handles are at the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 173cm, 71.9 kg 52 old vet D male.

Sculls length for Masters

That’s a very tough question because it depends on

  1. your flexibility
  2. your strength
  3. your sculling skill

So setting aside the fact that I don’t know you at all nor your rowing style. here’s a suggestion

Sit at the finish – legs straight and handles brushing your shirt.
Adjust the foot stretcher so you have between one fist and one and a half fists widths between the ends of the scull handles.

That is standard advice for all scullers. If you are a novice, you may need more width, if you’re skilled you can get away with less.

the length of sculling blades depends on

  1. your strength
  2. the span between the oarlocks on your boat (I am assuming this is for a single scull and is 159 or 160cm)


Sculls length for Masters

As far as scull length – go for 287 cm long or 288 cm if you are very strong and skilful and an inboard measurement of 88.5 cm. If you are stronger and skilful you can cope with something shorter because you can rate higher. If you are not as skilled you probably want to go for longer sculls if you are reasonably strong.
287:88 – go for this as the starting point.
If this is too easy i.e. the work isn’t loading up then try longer on the outboard and leave the inboard the same i.e. 287.5:88 or 288:88

If you can’t lift your rate to sprint in at the end of a race it’s generally recognised that your gearing is on the heavy side.

One last bit of advice – only change one thing at a time. SO, don’t do span plus altered sculls… change one thing; test it over a measured distance at a set rate. Then live with it for a couple of outings before changing something else.

I hope this helps.


Any readers have any other advice?

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

2 thoughts on “Sculls length for Masters sculler

  1. Some points,

    First, as the man said, change one thing at a time and make notes.

    2.) Don’t be afraid to have (slightly) longer or shorter handles than the traditional 1/2 span + 8cm (span = distance between the pins, you may know that already but I often forget), I have rowed with longer inboards and it worked quite nicely.

    3) Bringing the pins closer together (decreasing span) increases your stroke arc, for the same body rock over/slide length, and vice versa. Reducing the span like this will increase your effective gearing. If you are a fit/strong rower with poor flexibility then this may be a good solution. It is also worth trying for shorter rowers.

    4) Include a gearing ratio in you notes i.e. outboard/inboard. The higher this is the heavier the gearing. It will allow you to gain a clear idea of what you are aiming to achieve when you change blade lengths, particularly after changing the spread

    5) When measuring outboard, choose a fixed, and easily repeatable, point on the blade to measure to, make a note of that point. and stick to it.

    The measurements given above will be along the chord of the blade, i.e. from where the line created by following the oar shaft, meets the outer edge of the blade itself.

    6) Always, but always, check both blades are symmetrical before every outing.

    7) Experiment, it can work wonders for your rowing.

    x) I suggest giving strong novice scullers longer outboards, they will be able to move the boat faster and gain more stability. this will allow them to sit the boat and then develop boat feel. This is based on personal experience not scientific advice and goes against most coaches thoughts.

  2. For constant force the longer the stroke the faster the boat.
    For a sculler the arc of the stroke is the starting point. To get a nice long stroke you need an arc of 110 degrees. To achieve this people with shorter legs need shorter inboard and to keep the gearing consistent the length of the oar length needs to be reduced. At the same time the span should be reduced. At backstops one needs a gap between the handles of one or two fists or more. But at the same time the front-stop angle of the handle to the right angle from the boat should be about 65 degrees and back stop about 45 degrees . Starting from the arc and adjusting the blade and the span to suit the rower is the key.

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