By Chris George

Times change and with them, the technology with which we live and work.  My first rating watch was a clockwork Huer, which I still possess, bought for the 1980 Olympic year and it cost a serious sum of 1979 money even with the hefty discount Penny Chuter wangled for me. The Vectis OarRater, (OK put up with the pun!), which Rebecca Caroe asked me to try out and evaluate, costs about one quarter the price in today’s money and, so, the only questions I really had were to determine if it does the job and if it lasts under a normal coach’s wet and bumpy life.

The ergonomics are right – it feels good in the hand. There is a sturdy cord, which is adjustable so it can be secured to wrist or neck. Operation does not require many more neurones that most coaches possess but perhaps I lack the necessary as I found that the instructions could be clearer in that when it refers to “Button B”. No button is labelled “B” on the machine where it is labelled “Mode” so why not call it that in the instructions?  It was not immediately clear to this neurone-challenged coach if each rate requires “3 pushes” and also what was the value being shown of the “continuous update” – an average for the piece or that last stoke?  A minute or two’s experimentation showed it to be the last stroke which, obviously, was what was wanted.

It will also do stop watch (1/100th but resets in 30 minute increments), time, date and alarm. The stopwatch has a split mode, which the watch cannot recall but one cannot complain at that price!

The unit is sturdy – a glance through the lens shows it to be about 3mm thick plastic and looks like it could be used as a football and still work.

As my watch was provided on loan I did not try to dunk it in the bath to test its performance in the rain but if this watch does not lose its electronic read out in the rain, which happened to the one I used last year, then I shall be a happy bunny. At worst, I am not averse to putting it in a plastic bag because at that price I would still want to use it on a rainy day. 

Only time will tell if it is really water proof (it claims to be water resistant – but no number of metres are specified) or as durable as it looks but I, for one, have forked out the dosh to buy mine.
 The Vectis Group's response:  The Instructions supplied with the OarRATER have a picture showing the “A”, “B”, and “C” buttons.    The unit updates after every press so as the rate changes so does the display by averaging the last three strokes.   While not claimed to be “waterproof” it has been thrown in a bucket of water fives times without any ill effects as it was designed to be waterproof – but Vectis does not claim that – just “water resistant”.

Added: 11/10/2009 by Peter Hackworth
The OarRATER is a fantastic alternative to the more expensive (and injury-prone) rate meter that currently dominates the market. Sensibly priced, it does all that is required, with an easy-to-use and robust mechanism & clear and readable face. Rates are accurate and ultimately it does what it says on the tin. Other features are those that one would expect on a stop watch.  Rating?  Definitely 5 stars !