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Modern rowing oars for still water rowing are made of various carbon composites, during the drive phase of the stroke (force applied by the rower) the oars bend slightly as in the attached photo

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sydney_rowing_club/36771846464/

When the rower reaches the end of the stroke he stops applying force and takes the oar out of the water, during this process the oar returns to being straight again. If we say there was 100units of energy required to bend the oar, I am certain that not all that 100units is returned when the oar straightens out, i.e., there is loss of energy Can you explain where that energy goes and how it is lost, both by a simple method to understand and also at the atomic level for a better understanding

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What do you mean by returned? Returned to the oarsman? Used to propel the water forward? Recall that bending and stretching things produces heat from a change in pressure and density. While I'm not quite sure what you're asking, here's a guess based on my own season on a rowing team: as the oar comes out of the water, the pressure on it decreases until it's able to snap back to straight, propelling the boat forward a little more. Finally, as with anything involving energy, there is a small amount that is lost as heat during the transfer.

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