What is the purpose of Feathering

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I took a lesson on sliding seat rowing and have purchased an Adirondak Wherry. Can anyone enlighten me as to what the purpose of feathering is? It seems to involve a lot of distracting effort and technique. Also, is it possible to have fixed oars with a sliding seat by placing some type of pin through the oar and oarlocks?

Avi Katz

-- Avi Katz (avi@terraknits.com), May 09, 2001


Feathering is a technique that I use only occasionly in fixed seat dory rowing, mostly when heading into a stiff breeze. Sometimes we'll feather while racing. It's great to have that most necessary skill to draw on. I'd recommend that everyone should practice feathering before they're in a situation when they really need it.

-- Alice Twombly (rirc99@cs.com), May 19, 2001.

The technique of feathering saves you energy (and frustration on a windy day). When the blade of the oar is feathered, the blade slices through the air and minimal effort is needed to prepare for the next stroke. Try rowing without feathering the oars on a windy day. You'll FEEL the difference. Also, if the water is choppy and there are decent size waves, feathering will allow you to clear the waves - whereas if you didn't feather, the oars would consistently hit the waves as you are trying to get ready to take the next stroke.

-- Kari B. Kastango (kbkst5@imap.pitt.edu), May 21, 2001.

Hello Avi,

You will find it a lot easier to 'feather' if you ~do not grip the oars too tightly and only use your fingers (not your palm) ~lean back slightly at the finish ~drop your wrists at the finish as the oar approaches your chest ~push your hands 'down and away' smoothly.

Remember, your arms are just a 'hook' to the oar while your body pivots; doing all of the work. Keep your back straight and your arms straight for as long as you can during the stroke. (Assuming you are using a fixed seat). By leaning back at the finish and pulling the oars down and away smoothly it will help you to recover your position for the next stroke.

'Feathering' is essential for an efficient stroke. It allows for a cleaner and more powerful finish, if done right. It also prevents you from gauging a furrow out of your thigh with your thumb nails!

Good luck,

Michael (Weybridge RC)

-- Michael Swain (michael_swain@bdacos.bm), May 30, 2001.

Hey Avi --

I'm no coach, but I'm on my high school's rowing team, and to practice we do drills that in which we row only on the square... These drills are extremly tough, because the set of the boat throws our orrs into the water and acts as brakes to the boat run. When feathering even in a single, it will help the set of the boat and will make your row a whole lot more enjoyable, not to mention reduce wind resistance and help keep up your boat run and help you in turn go faster.

-- Mike Milne (MM_5000@hotmail.com), October 25, 2001.

Don't rush the feather. All the points mentioned are valid and valuable but when novice rowers jump to feathering too early they often start to feather as they come out of the water and may not drop the blade in completely square; both of which cause problems. Starting off square or doing drills square will help rowers develop skills in this area.

good Luck

-- Sean (whosyodaddy26@hotmail.com), May 13, 2002.

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