I mean to post this a while ago, but here goes.
At the end of last fall season fall I traded in my Croker S4 Superlights for new Arrow S40s. It was time to replace the collars on my existing oars anyway, and I had talked to Greg Doyle about the anticipated S40 model, which combines a standard-modulus carbon shaft with the Arrow blade. I had used the Arrow S39s (high-modulus) at Red Bull High Stakes, and they were so light that I felt like I was rowing with matchsticks on a windy day, so I wanted to try the heavier model with standard stiffness.
Bottom line: Love ’em!
- Blade grip on the water is outstanding, and much, much better than the S4 Slick blade. The lock on at the catch is so soft and quick that it reminds me of rowing with Dreher macon blades “back in the day,” to the point where I have to double-check to make sure I am not rowing it in. With the Slicks, I would sometimes have the blade start to slip during the middle of the drive in rough conditions or when I was rowing poorly, but the Arrow blades are rock solid. This has made it easier to catch with the speed of the boat, maintain a fully buried blade through the finish, take it out square.
- Blade weight is noticeably heavier, but I like this. In the single, stability out of the water is improved at the cost of 150 grams of weight – which is a tradeoff I’m willing to make. I have a much better sense of a solid platform with squared blades at max extension before the catch. They also create less drama when I clip an object in the water with my blade on the recovery such as a buoy or log.
- Aerodynamics are much better. I row on a long, narrow venue that can sustain pretty high winds before the water starts whitecapping, so I sometimes row in winds that would call for an ergo day on a lake with more fetch. The S4s had a tendency to “lift off” on the recovery when hit by a sufficiently strong quartering head gust. The Arrows are again rock solid – I have not yet had a wind-induced missed catch.
I realize that oar selection is a matter of personal preference. For me, the Arrow S40s are a clear upgrade over the S4 Superlights.
The official descriptions are here: http://www.crokerusa.com/sculling-oars
You can also use this nifty tool from Row2k.com to compare the Arrow and Slick blade shapes: http://www.row2k.com/features/980/row2k-Blade-Comparator/