Bay - Indoor storage area. (Equivalent to your garage at home.)


Boat and Oar Racks – racks specifically designed for size, weight and type of equipment stored.


Slings (or boat slings) - Collapsible/portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be placed temporarily.


Ergometer  (‘Erg’) - that rowing machine that you see in the boathouse or gym (…as well as some folks living rooms…)  It allows beginning rowers to learn the basics to learn the basics of the stroke before going on the water, and is used by all rowers to develop their conditioning.


Oars:   Rowers use oars to propel their shells. Sweep oars are longer than sculling oars, typically with carbon fiber handles and rubber grips (although some sweepers still prefer wooden handles). Sculling oars are almost never wood.


Oar - The piece of equipment which each rower uses to propel the boat. In sweep rowing, each oar is approximately 12 feet long, lightweight, and well designed.


Blades - The wide flat section of the oar at the head of the shaft. The two types are called hatched and spoon.


Hatchets - (aka big blades or choppers or cleavers) These oar blades have a bigger surface area than the "standard" or spoon blades and have a hatchet or meat cleaver shape.


Button - A plastic or metal fitting tightened on the oar to keep the oar from slipping thought the oarlock.


Racing shell - the boat:   Although spectators will see hundreds of different races at a rowing event, there are only six basic boat configurations. Scullers row in singles (1x), doubles (2x) and quads (4x). Sweep rowers come in pairs (2s), fours (4s) and eights (8s). Sweep rowers may or may not carry a coxswain (cox-n), the person who steers the boat and serves as the on-the-water coach. All eights have coxswains, but pairs and fours may or may not. In all sculling boats and sweep boats without coxswains, a rower steers the boat by using a rudder moved with the foot.


Shell - The racing boat. Shells come in configurations and sizes for single rowers, pairs, fours, and eights. They’re made of lightweight carbon fiber. The smallest boat on the water is the single scull, which is only 27-30 feet long, a foot wide and approximately 30 pounds. Eights are the largest boats at 60 feet and a little over 200 pounds.


Scull - A shell configured so that each rower uses two oars. This term is also used interchangeably when referring to the oars used in a sculling shell, the shell it self or the act of rowing a sculling shell.

-         Single: A scull for one rower.

-         Double: A scull for 2 rowers.

-         Quad: A scull for 4 rowers.


Sweep - A shell configured so that each rower has one oar. Oars on a sweep shell are normally alternated from side to side.

-         Pair: A sweep for two rowers.

-         Four: A sweep for 4 rowers.

-         Eight: A sweep for 8 rowers.


Bow - front of the boat.


Stern - back of the boat.


Port - left side of the boat when facing bow.


Starboard - right side of the boat when facing bow.


Gunwale (pronounced "gunnel"): side of the boat. Top section on the sides of a shell which runs along the sides of the crew section when the rowers or located. The riggers are secured to the gunwale with bolts.


Keel - The center line of the shell. The term refers to the extent to which the boat is balanced form side to side while rowing. A "good keel" is where the shell is rowed with little or no continual dipping to port or starboard.


Rudder - Steering device at the stern. The rudder is connected to cables (tiller ropes) that the coxswain uses to steer the shell.


Skeg (or fin) - A small fin located along the stern section of the hull. This helps to stabilize the shell in holding a true course while rowing. All racing shells have a skeg. The skeg should not be confused with the rudder.


Slide (or track) - Two tracks on which the seat moves. The seat moves forward and backwards on the slide, enabling to rower to "gather up" his body at the start of the stroke, and then use the combined power of the legs, back, and arms when actually executing the slide.


Foot Stretcher - An adjustable bracket in a shell to which the rower's feet are secured in attached sneakers or similar footwear.


State room - One rowers space in the boat


Rigger - The device that connects the oarlock to the shell and is bolted to the body 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.


Rigging - The adjustment and alteration of accessories (riggers, foot-stretchers, oar, etc.) in and on the shell. Examples of rigging adjustments that can be made are: the height of the rigger, location of the foot-stretchers, location and height of the oarlocks, location of the button (or collar) on the oar and the pitch of the blade of the oar.


Cox Box - A small electronic device which aids the coxswain by amplifying his voice and which gives a readout of important information such as stroke count.


Seating in the shell:


The crew. Athletes are identified by their position in the boat. The athlete sitting in the bow, the part of the boat that crosses the finish line first, is the bow seat or No. 1 seat. The person in front of the bow is No. 2, then No. 3 and so on. The rower closest to the stern that crosses the finish line last is known as the stroke. The stroke of the boat must be a strong rower with excellent technique, as the stroke is the person who sets the rhythm of the boat for the rest of the rowers.


Bowman: (or Bow) The rower in the bow of the boat - When the boat is coxless (i.e. no coxswain), the bowman issues the commands and steers the boat.


1, 2, 3, etc. - It is common to refer to the rowers by number. The convention is to number from bow to stern so that the bowman is #1, the person behind him # 2, etc. You can also address the rowers by pairs or fours, making "Bow Pair" #1 and #2, "Stern Four" #5, 6 ,7 ,and 8


Port -  (The left side of the shell when facing the bow.)  In sweep rowing, the designation of a rower who normally rows with an oar on the port side.


Starboard -  (The right side of the shell when facing the bow.)  In sweep rowing, the designation of a rower who normally rows with an oar on the starboard side.


Engine room - the middle four rowers of an eight, or middle two rowers in a pair (sweep) or a double (sculling).   The term applies to those teams who place their largest and/or strongest rowers in the mid-section of the boat.


Stern 4 - last 4 seats in the boat


Bow 4 - first 4 seats in the boat


Stroke seat (‘Stroke’) - The rower sitting nearest the stern (and the coxswain).  The stroke is responsible for setting the stroke length and cadence for the rest of the crew, following the commands and encouragement of the coxswain.


Site Map Coxswain -  (Or Cox, or Cox’n)  The person who sits at the stern of the shell (although this may be in the bow of some “4s”), steers, gives commands, calls the ratings, and urges the rowers on in a race.  A knowledgeable coxswain will generally serve as an “on-site/in-the-shell” assistant to the coach.  Relatively light in weight, a good coxswain will have as much competitive spirit as the rowers and can make a considerable difference in a race. He either sits in the stern or lies in the bow.




Weigh-Enough - Actually sounds like “way-nuff”.  This is the coxswain’s call to have all rowers stop rowing - the crew should finish the stroke in progress and stop rowing


Power 10 - A set of strokes when the crew makes an extra effort to "get everything on the oar" and make the shell go faster. Used in a race or in practice to try and get a tactical advantage on the other crews, or to focus a crew on timing and coordination. Can also be power 15 or 20.


Back down: (or "Back") Row backwards.


Check it: (or "Eight Check" )Same as "Hold water"


Hold water: Square the oar in the water (to stop the boat fast).


Paddle: Row easy, i. e. no power on the stroke.


Half power: Next step up from "paddle". Next step is "3/4 power" and then "Full Power".


Ready all-row: The command to start rowing. Should be preceded by "From the finish" or "From the catch".


Rowing Cycle Terms:


Stroke - One full motion to move a shell. It is also used as a term referring to the stern-most rower who sits nearest the coxswain.


Catch - The start of the rowing cycle at which the blade enters the water. It is accomplished by an upward motion of the arms only. The blade of the oar must be fully squared at the catch.


Feathering - The act of turning the oar blade from a position perpendicular to the surface of the water to a position parallel to the water. This is done in conjunction with the release.


Release - A sharp downward (if any) motion of the hand which serves to remove the oar blade from the water and start the rowing cycle.


Recovery - Part of the rowing cycle from the release up to and including where the oar blade enters the water.


Squaring - A gradual rolling of the oar blade from a position parallel to the water to a position (almost) perpendicular to the surface of the water. This is accomplished during the recovery portion of the rowing cycle and is done in preparation for the catch.


Drive - That part of the rowing cycle when the rower applies power to the oar. This is a more (or less) blended sequence of applying power primarily with a leg drive, then the back and finally the arms.


Finish - The last part of the drive before the release where the power is mainly coming from the back and arms.


Rating - Also known as stroke rating and is measured in SPM (strokes per minute), literally the number of strokes the boat completes in a minute’s time. The stroke rate at the start is high – 38-45, even into the 50s for an eight – and then “settles” to a race cadence typically in the 30s. Crews sprint to the finish, taking the rate up once again. Crews may call for a “Power 10” during the race – a demand for the crew’s most intense 10 strokes.


Crab - "Catching a crap" refers to a problem encountered by a rower when his oar gets "stuck" in the water, usually right after the catch or just before the release and caused by improper squaring or feathering. The momentum of the shell can overcome the rower's control of the oar, sucking the oar into the water and causing the handle of the oar to go over the rowers head. In extreme cases, the rower can actually be ejected from the shell by the oar.


Check - Any abrupt deceleration of the shell caused by some uncontrolled motion within the shell; an interruption in the forward motion of the shell.


Uniform:   Unisuit - uniform for crew aka a singlet


Regattas:   Race watching. The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job. When watching a race, look for a continuous, fluid motion from the rowers; synchronization in the boat; clean catches, i.e. oars entering the water with little splash; and the boat with the most consistent speed.


Racing  categories - Sex, age and weight. Events are offered for men and women, as well as for mixed crews containing an equal number of men and women. There are junior events for rowers 18 or under or who spent the previous year in high school, and there are masters events for rowers 27 and older. There are two weight categories: lightweight and open weight.


Course - A straight race course for rowers that normally has 4-6 lanes.  In high school, the course length is 1500 meters.  In college and Olympic events, the course length is 2000 meters/2 kilometers/‘2k’.


Stakeboat - boat that holds the shell in a race so all crews on the starting line have same and equal start


Betting shirts - tradition has it that the winning boat of a regatta recieves the shirts of the losing crews  (Applies to college, club and national teams.)


NEW PARENTS: Get to the regatta early and ask one of the upperclassman parents explain the routine. The more you know about the regatta, the more interesting it will be. This is not an especially spectator friendly sport. 




Rowing is a total body workout. Rowing only looks like an upper body sport. Although upper body strength is important, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs. Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involves all of the body’s major muscle groups. It is a great aerobic workout, in the same vein as cross-country skiing, and is a low-impact sport on the joints.


Rowers are probably the world’s best athletes. Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it is done well. Don’t be fooled. Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically fit athletes for nothing. The sport demands endurance, strength, balance, mental discipline, and an ability to continue on when your body is demanding that you stop.


Teamwork is number one. Rowing isn’t a great sport for athletes looking for MVP status. It is, however, teamwork’s best teacher. The athlete trying to stand out in an eight will only make the boat slower. The crew made up of individuals willing to sacrifice their personal goals for the team will be on the medal stand together. Winning teammates successfully match their desire, talent and bladework with one another.

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