The oar notch was cut into the block of wood using a circular saw. I made many fine cuts and then obliterated the thin pieces of wood in between the cuts to smooth out the area.
I first made the notch 1/2" deep, but this was way too shallow.
I then went back and made the cut a full 2" deep. This looks deep enough to hold the sculling oar in place. The sides were also beveled and flared, to allow the oar to pivot more easily.
The next step will be to attach the base and give the oar a test run!