Grip it and Rip It

By Rich Davis

St Catherines, CANADA, USA Sweep oar - hand position. Photo by Peter Spurrier.

Sweep rowers should place the outside hand at the end of the handle and the inside hand two hand-widths from the outside hand. Keeping the hands close together allows for greater leverage. However, a wider grip can be more comfortable and makes it easier to strongly draw the handle to the body at the finish. Of course, a wider grip also means less leverage. In addition, because handles widen toward the shaft, maintaining a wide grip with the inside hand far down the shaft makes it harder to feather and can strain muscles and tendons in the forearm. As you approach the catch, twist over their hips so that your shoulders remain parallel to the handle as the oar’s angle to the boat changes. Your upper body must turn with the oar so that each arm can extend to full length and your hands retain their proper grip, the handle cupped by the fingers with the knuckles over the leading edge of the handle. At the release, use your inside hand to feather the oar while your outside hand, which has the greatest leverage, pushes down to lift the blade from the water. Your outside hand should be loose enough to allow the handle to turn inside it.