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Rowing 101


When you first come into contact with rowing the technical nature of the equipment and the names used are very unfamiliar.  Have no fear, being involved with your daughter's rowing will soon have you up with the lingo  and what it means in no time.
Rowing takes place in thin boats made of either wood or synthetic materials.

The front of the boat is called the bow. The back is called the stern. Looking at the boat from stern to bow, the left-hand side of the boat is called strokeside and the right-hand side of the boat is called bowside.

Boats seat between 1 and 8 rowers who face backwards and might also include a seat for a cox who typically faces forwards. Depending on the size and make of the boat, the cox may either be at the front of the boat, in which case the boat is called a bow-cox, or the may be at the stern of the boat, in which case the boat is called a stern-cox.

Technically, "rowing" involves rowers using only one oar (or blade). If the rowers are each using two oars then they are "sculling".

The arrangement of the oars is know as the "rigging". Sometimes the boat will be rigged differently, however in and Eights for example Stroke & 7 will always be on opposite sides, as will 6 & 5, 4 & 3 and 2 & Bow. 

The most common alternative rigging is called "bow-rigging" and has each rower on the opposite side to usual. It is important to note that strokeside always refers to the left-hand side of the boat as seen by the cox even if the stroke's blade is on the right-hand side. Thus stroke is sometimes on bowside and indeed bow is sometimes on strokeside. 

Boat Classification

The boat classifications in programmes specify, in a set sequence, the age and/or expertise of the rowers, the gender, the number of rowers’ seats, whether they are rowing or sculling (x) and if they have a coxswain (+) or not.

The boats in common usage have 1, 2, 4, or 8 seats.
It is a convention that if the gender is not specified then the boat is a male crew and that the crew is rowing unless specified as a sculling crew (x).

For example:
U18 2- = under 18 coxless pair
U18 2x = under 18 double scull
U17 4+ = under 17 coxed four (rowing)
U16 4x+ = under 16 coxed quad (sculling)
U15 8+ = under 15 eight (rowing)
U18 G8 = under 18 girl eight. (8's always have coxes so the + is often omitted).



Basic Rowing Terms

Blade: The oar; also the end of the oar which is placed in the water.

Bow: The front end of the boat; also used as the name of the person sitting nearest the bow.

Bowball: A round rubber protrusion attached to the bow of a shell for protection.

Bowman: The oarsman who sits nearest the bow.

Catch: The oar blade entering the water at the beginning of the stroke.

Collar (or Button): A plastic or metal fitting tightened to the oar to keep the oar from slipping through the oarlock.

Crab: A stroke that goes bad. The oar blade slices into the water at an angle and gets caught under the surface. A bad crab can catapult a rower out of the boat.

Coxswain: The helmsman, who has two important jobs: To keep the boat moving straight by making minor corrections to the rudder, and to keep the oarsmen rowing at the desired stroke rate.

Dumps: Collapsible/portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be placed. 

Erg(ometer): A rowing machine designed to simulate the actual rowing motion; used for training and testing.

Feathering: Turning the oar blade flat during the recovery to lessen wind resistance.

Fin (or skeg): A small flat appendage located along the stern section of the hull which helps stabilize the shell in holding a straight course.

Finish: The oar blade leaving the water at the end of the stroke.
Foot stretcher (or clogs or shoes): An adjustable bracket in a shell to which rowers feet are secured.

Gunwale (or gunnel): That part of a shell which runs along the sides of the crew compartment through which the riggers are bolted.

Handle: The end of the oar you hold in your hand.

Keel: The center line of the shell.

Oarlock: A U-shaped swivel which holds the oar in place. It is mounted at the end of the rigger and rotates around a metal pin. A gate closes across the top to keep the oar in place.

Pitch: The angle between a "squared" blade and a line perpendicular to the water’s surface.

Port side: Left side of the boat, as facing the bow.

Recovery: The time between strokes, the oar blade traveling through the air.

Ribs: The name given to that part of the boat to which the skin of the hull is attached. They are typically made of wood, aluminum or composite materials and provide structural integrity. The riggers bolt to the ribs.

Rig: The arrangement of the oars or sculls, the mechanical "set-up" - which can vary according to size, strength, experience and technique of a given crew.

Rigger: The assembly of tubes which are tightly bolted to the hull to which are attached an oarlock.

Rigging:The adjustment and alteration of accessories (riggers, foot stretchers, oar,etc.) in and on the shell to maximize a particular rowers efficiency, based on their size and capabilities.

Rudder: device used to steer the shell.

Scull: this term is used interchangeably: to the oars used in sculling, the sculling shell itself; or the act of rowing in a sculling shell.

Shell: A racing boat; Term for rowing boats.

Sleeve: A plastic or leather wrap placed around the shaft at the location of the collar to protect the shaft from the tightening of the collar.

Slide: The track on which the seat moves.

Split: The time a crew takes to complete a 500 meter segment of the race.

Starboard: Right side of the boat facing the bow.

Stern: the rear end of the boat.

Stroke: Apart from the rowing action, this can also mean the person who sets the pace for the rest of the crew. The stroke sits nearest the stern.

Washing Out: Not fully recovering the blade during the whole stroke.








Inside the boat


Boat Types - Sweep

sweep boats

Boat Types - Sculls

sculling boats