How to Size Boat Oars

by C.L. Rease
Couple canoeing with two wooden boat oars.

Couple canoeing with two wooden boat oars.

The length of your boat oars determines your comfort while rowing the boat. Boat oars that are too short, will sit at a steep angle to the water making it harder for you to row. Oars too long for your boat's width, will increase the amount of weight extending beyond your boat's oar locks, making rowing difficult. A traditional formula determines the correct oar length for your boat, using the width of your boat -- rather than the boat's length -- to determine the oar length required for comfortable rowing.

1. Measure the distance between the oar locks with a tape measure.

2. Divide the measurement by two and add 2 inches to the dimension. For example, a boat measuring 48 inches between the oar locks divided by two would equal 24 inches. Adding 2 inches would give you a measurement of 26 inches.

3. Divide the dimension by seven. For example, 26 inches divided by seven would give you 3.714 inches.

4. Multiply the number by 25. Keeping with the example, 3.714 inches multiplied by 25 equals 92.857 inches.

5. Convert the number in inches to feet by dividing the number by twelve. 92.857 divided by 12 inches equals 7.73 feet. Increase the number to the nearest foot. In the example, the optimal oar length is 8 feet.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure

Photo Credits

  • LWA/Larry Williams/Blend Images/Getty Images