25 years of rowing excellence

Rowing Terminology

Alphabetical Listing of Terms

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Actual start: In sprints (head-to-head races), this is generally five or six partial strokes done at a high rate and in a certain pattern at the beginning of the race, i.e., three-quarter length stroke (sometimes called three-quarter slide), followed by half, half, three-quarters, three-quarters, and then a full length stroke. The goal is to get the rowers off to a cohesive start and quickly build momentum.

Air stroke: To take a stroke without the blade having been placed in the water, resulting in a complete lack of power.

Ambidextrous: A rower who can row both on the starboard and port sides of the boat.


Backsplash: This term is in reference to the water thrown back toward the bow direction by the blade as it enters the water. Less is best. This indicates that the blade has been properly planted before the rower initiates the drive.

Backstay: A brace which is part of the rigger of sweep rowing boats, which extends toward the bow from the top of the pin.

Backstop: The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the back end (towards the boat’s bow) of the slide tracks. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s stern. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “back end”).

Backwater: To propel the shell backwards.

Blade: The spoon or hatchet shaped end of the oar or sweep.

Body Angle: Amount of forward lean of rower’s body from hips at the catch.

Body: The body of the race is carried out at a consistent rating, with power tens called as the coxswain deems necessary.

Bow (or bow seat): The rower closest to the front or bow of a multi-person shell. In coxless boats, often the person who keeps an eye on the water behind him to avoid accidents.

Bow ball: An essential small, soft ball no smaller than 4 cm diameter securely attached to a rowing or sculling boat’s bow. Primarily intended for safety but also useful in deciding which boat crossed the finish line first in very close races.

Bow number: A card holding the number assigned to the boat for a race.

Bow: The front section of a shell.

Bowloader / Bowcox / Bow-steered: When a coxswain is placed in a seat partially enclosed in the bow of the shell.

Bury the blade: Submerge the blade totally in the water.


Canvas: The deck of the bow and stern of the boat, which were traditionally made from canvas

Catch point: Where the blade enters the water.

Catch: The part of the stroke at which the oar blade enters the water and the drive begins. Rowers conceptualize the oar blade as ‘catching’ or grabbing hold of the water.

Check: The amount of interruption of the forward movement—usually occurs at the catch and sometimes at the release.

Cleaver blade (also Hatchet blade): Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape.

Collar / Button: A wide plastic ring placed around the sleeve of an oar. The button stops the oar from slipping through the oarlock.

Cover: The distance between one set of puddles and the next set of puddles.

Cox box: Portable voice amplifier; may also optionally incorporate digital readouts displaying stroke rate, boat speed and times.

Coxmate: A portable amplification device, similar to a cox box, incorporating a digital readout. Higher models may also have a built in radio and speed sensor.

Coxswain: The oar-less crew-member, usually included, who is responsible for steering and race strategy. The coxswain either sits in the stern or lies in the bows of the boat.

Crab: A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an ‘over-the-head crab.’


Drive: The propulsive portion of the stroke from the time the oar blade enters the water (“catch”) until it is removed from the water (“release”).


Egg beater: A race where the crews are drawn randomly from a hat, so that boats are made up of members from different teams and often the lineups include coxswains as rowers and vice versa. Also known as scratch race.

 

Eight (8+): A shell with 8 rowers. Along with the single scull, it is traditionally considered to be the blue ribbon event. Always with coxswain because of the size, weight and speed of the boat – bow loader eights exist but are banned from most competitions for safety reasons.

Engine room: The middle rowers in the boat. In an 8-person shell, these are generally seats 5, 6, and 3 and 4 to a lesser degree. They are generally the biggest and strongest rowers.

Ergometer (also Ergo or Erg): An indoor rowing machine.


Feather: To turn the oar so that its blade is parallel with the water (opposite of square).

Finish: That portion of the pull-through just as the oar is taken from the water.

Flutter/Shunt: In head-to-head races, the coxswain may decide to call a flutter, which is essentially the six-stroke start put into the race close to the end. The flutter may push one boat which is trailing another a few seats ahead, but is extremely demanding on a crew. In many cases, it is used as a desperation move when all other options have been exhausted.

Foot stretcher: An adjustable footplate which allows the rower to easily adjust his or her physical position relative to the slide and the oarlock. The footplate can be moved (or “stretched”) either closer to or farther away from the slide frontstops.

Footchock (also Footplate): An alternate name for the cross bracing which allows a rower to secure his/her feet.

Footplate (also Footchock): The piece of the boat to which the rower’s feet are attached, either by tying their actual shoes (sneakers) in, or (more often) by putting their feet into a permanently-attached pair of sneakers.

Footstop: The shoe assembly in a shell into which each rower laces his or her feet.

Four (4-) or (4+): A shell with 4 rowers. Coxless fours (4-) are often referred to as straight fours, and are commonly used by lightweight and elite crews and are raced at the Olympics. In club and school rowing, one more frequently sees a coxed four (4+) which is easier to row, and has a coxswain to steer.

Frontstop: The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the front end (towards the boat’s stern) of the slide tracks. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s stern. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “front end”)

Gimp seat: Seat 3 in an 8-person boat, often regarded as having the least responsibility.

Gunwales (also Saxboard): (Pronounced: gunnels) The top rail of the shell


Handle: The part of the oar that the rowers hold and pull with during the stroke.

 

Hands away: At the close of the drive phase, the hands move away from the body.

Hanging at the catch: The blade is hesitating at the catch point, before entering the water.

Hatchet blade (also Cleaver blade): Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape.

Head race: A long race in which rowers race a twisting course of about three miles. A race for time. The start is staggered. Usually in the fall months.

Heavyweight: A rower who weighs more than the restrictions for lightweight rowing. Often referred to as Open weight.

High Ten: In sprints (head-to-head races), a set of strokes done at a high cadence immediately after the start. Not to be confused with “Power Ten,” the high ten is ten strokes at a high rating to finish building speed. Some crews may pull 15 or 20 high strokes to build even more speed.

Hot seating: When two crews share the same shell, during a regatta, sometimes it is necessary for the crews to switch at the finish line without taking the boat from the water.

Hull: The actual body of the shell.


Inboard: The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the handle.

Inside hand: The oarsmen’s hand nearest the oar lock. This is the feathering hand.


Jumping the slide: A problem where the seat becomes derailed from the track while rowing.


Keel: The balance of the boat. Good keel means that the stability of the boat is good. “keep keel” is a command often heard from the coxswain when the boat starts to sway.

Keelson: A structure timber resembling the keel, but on the inside of the shell.


Launch: A motorboat used by rowing instructors, coaches or umpires.

Lay-back: What the rowers have when they sit with their legs flat and lean towards the bow of the boat with their body.

Leather / Sleeve: A thick piece of leather (plastic) around the oar to keep the oar lock from wearing out the wood.

Leg Drive: Power applied to the stroke, at the catch, by the force of driving the legs down. Often heard being yelled from the coach boat.

Lightweight: A rower whose weight allows him or her to be eligible to compete in lightweight rowing events.

Lines: The ropes held by the coxswain to control the rudder.

Loom: The part of the oar between the blade and the handle.


Macon Blade (also Spoon blade and Tulip): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.

Masters (or Veteran): Rowers 27 (31 – UK) years of age or greater.

Missing water: A technical fault where the rower begins the drive before the catch is complete.


Novices: Rowers who are rowing for the first season, or (in the UK) a rower who has not won a regatta.

Oar: A slender pole which is attached to a boat at the Oarlock. One end of the pole, called the “handle,” is gripped by the rower. The other end has a “blade,” which is placed in the water during the propulsive phase of the stroke. The blade portion of the oar is similar to a razor blade or a piece of paper: Essentially two-dimensional, the third dimension is very thin, although it should be noted that there is a very important element to the third dimension of the blade, namely that it is curved into a sort of hydrofoil, which helps provide much of the thrust.

Oarlock: The rectangular lock at the end of the rigger which physically attaches the oar to the boat. The oarlock also allows the rower to rotate the oar blade between the “square” and “feather” positions.

Open water race: Competition on unsheltered water exposed to current, tide, wind and requiring navigation skills as well as strength, endurance, and technique. Generally uses a mass start and includes a mix of human-powered boats. Typical race distances are 6 to 26 miles.

Outboard: The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the tip of the blade.

Outrigger: See Rigger

Outside hand: The hand of a rower that is placed on the end of the oar handle.

Over reach: Fault done by an oarsman when he comes to his full reach forward and then attempts to obtain even greater length by releasing his grasp on the handle with his outside hand or by bringing his outside shoulder further forward.


Pair (2-) or (2+): A shell with 2 rowers. The Coxless pair (2-), often called a straight pair, is a demanding but satisfying boat to master. Coxed pairs (2+) are rarely rowed by most club and school programs. It is no longer an Olympic class event, but it continues to be rowed at the World Rowing Championships. The bow loader coxed pair was nicknamed “the coffin” due to the difficulty for the cox to escape in the event of a capsize.

Pause paddling: Rowing with a pause between each stroke. The coxswain or rower giving commands will indicate where in the stroke this pause should be taken.

Pin: The vertical metal rod on which the rowlock rotates.

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

Pogies / Poagies: A type of mitten with holes on each end, which allow the rower to grip the oar with bare hands while also warming the hands, used frequently by rowers in colder climates.

Port / Portside: The left side of the boat when facing forward.

Port: A sweep rower who rows with the oar on the port or left side of the boat.

Pot: A tankard awarded as a prize to each member of a winning crew.

Puddles: Disturbances made by an oar blade pulled through the water. The farther the puddles are pushed past the stern of the boat before each catch, the more “run” the boat is getting.

Pull through: The portion of the stroke from the catch to the finish (when the oar is in the water). This is the propulsive part of the stroke.


Rating (also Stroke rate): The number of strokes executed per minute by a crew.

Ratio: The relationship between the time taken during the propulsive and recovery phases of a rowing or sculling action.

Recovery: The non-work phase of the stroke where the rower returns the oar from the release to the catch.

Release: At the end of the drive portion of the stroke. It is when the oar blade(s) is removed (or released) from the water.

Repechage: The “second chance” race given to those crews which fail to qualify for the finals from an opening heat. “Rep” qualifiers move onto semi-finals or finals depending on the number of entries. Used in international racing.

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.

Rigger: A “Rigger” is the rowing slang name for an Outrigger. It is a projection from the side (gunwale) of a racing shell. The oarlock is attached to the far end of the rigger away from the boat. The rigger allows the racing shell to be narrow thereby decreasing drag, while at the same time placing the oarlock at a point that optimize leverage of the oar. There are several styles of riggers, but they are most often a triangle frame, with two points attached to the boat, and the third point being where the oarlock is placed. Rigging is also used to describe whether a boat is stroked by a port or starboard rower (i.e., port-rigged, starboard-rigged). With sweep rowing, riggers typically alternate sides, though it is not uncommon to see two adjacent seats rigged on the same side of the boat.

Rigging: The term used to describe how the boat is outfitted, including all of the apparatuses (oars, outriggers, oarlocks, sliding seats, etc.) attached to a boat that allow the rower to propel the boat through the water. It is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon term wrigan or wrihan, which means “to clothe.” It literally means to outfit or clothe a boat. “Rigging” is also used to describe the configuration of the boat and settings of the apparatuses.

Roller: The wheels upon which the seat slide travels along its track.

Rudder: Adjacent to the skeg and used by the coxswain (or in some coxless boats, by a rower using a “toe”) to steer the boat via attached cables. Extra-large rudders are used on narrower and/or bendier rivers.

Run: Distance a shell travels during each stroke.

Rushing: Term for when rowers move too quickly along their tracks into the catch. The boat will lose the feeling that it is gliding or “running out.”

Saxboard (also Gunwales): The sides and top edge of a boat, which the riggers attach – see also Gunwales

Scratch crew: A crew which has not rowed with each other before.

Scull: (a) An oar made to be used in a sculling boat where each rower has two oars, one per hand; or (b) a boat (shell) that is propelled using sculling oars, e.g., a “single scull,” is a one-person boat where the rower has two oars.

Sculler: A rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand.

Seat number: A rower’s position in the boat counting up from the bow. In an eight, the person closest to the bow of the boat is “bow,” the next is 2, followed by 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and finally 8 or “stroke.” In certain countries the seats are numbered the opposite way, from stroke up to bow.

Seat race: A method to compare two rowers in fours or eights. Two boats race against each other once. One rower from each boat switches positions, and the two boats race again. Relative performance in the two races is used to compare the abilities of the two rowers.

Seat: Molded seat mounted on wheels, single action or double action. Single action is fixed bearing wheel; double action is wheel on axle that rolls on track and rolls on horns of seat. A secondary meaning of location in the shell, the bow seat is one, and is numbered upward to the stroke seat (8, in an 8-man shell). Thirdly, can mean a competitive advantage in a race, to lead a competitor by a seat is to be in front of them by the length of a single rower’s section of a shell.

Seating: Seating positions in a racing shell are generally numbered from the bow to the stern in English-speaking countries, unlike many non-English-speaking countries which count from the Stroke forward. Generally, the forwardmost rower is called the “Bow” and the aftmost rower the “Stroke,” regardless of the number of rowers in the boat, with all other seats simply being numbered. So, for instance, the crew of an eight (with coxswain) would number off from the bow: “Bow,” “Two,” “Three,” “Four”, “Five,” “Six,” “Seven,” “Stroke,” whereas a four (with or without coxswain) or a quad would number off: “Bow,” “Two,” “Three,” “Stroke.”

Set: The balance of the boat. Affected by handle heights, rowers leaning, and timing, all of which affect the boat’s balance, after which the coxswain tells rowers to “set the boat”.

Settle: In sprints (head-to-head races), immediately after the rowers complete their high cadence strokes to start the race, the stroke tempo is lowered and the stroke lengthened to the rating to be used throughout the body of the race. Often accompanied by a Power 10 or 20. Coxswains may call a “Ten to Settle” or “Ten to Glide” to drop the cadence more gradually.

Shell: The boat used for rowing.

Shooting your slide: Term used for when an oarsman’s seat moves toward the bow faster than his shoulders.

Shoulder (also Knee): Load bearing supports that mount the rigger and attach to keel of boat.

Skeg (also Fin): Thin piece of flat metal or plastic that helps stabilize the shell in the water.

Skying: Term used to describe a blade that is too high off the surface of the water during the recovery. The rower’s hands are too low causing an upset to the balance of the boat (the “set”).

Slides (also Tracks): Hollow rails upon which a rower or sculler’s sliding seat will roll. Older shells might be convex rails with double wheels.

Slings: Folding, portable temporary boat holders. Two are required to hold a boat.

Smoothie: A blade design in which the face of the oar blade is smooth, without the traditional central spine.

Spacing: Distance between bowman’s puddle on one stroke and the point at which the No. 7 rower catches water on the next stroke.

Speed coach: A device mounted on the keel of some high-performance shells that determines the boat’s speed based on the speed of a small propeller and transmits this information to the cox box.

Split time (split): Amount of time it takes to row 500 meters. Displayed on all ergs and on cox boxes installed on boats with speed coaches (see above).

Spoon blade (also Macon blade): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.

Sprint: The last 500 meters of most races are generally at a much higher rating than the rest of the race, as crews pull to exhaustion.

Square: To turn the oar so that its blade is perpendicular to the water (opposite of feather).

Starboard (also Starboard side): The right side of the boat when facing forward.

Starboard rigged: A boat where the stroke rower is a starboard rower.

Starboard: A sweep rower who rows with the oar on the starboard or right side of the boat.

Start: In head to head races, the start is one of the most important parts of the race. In head races, where boats do not race next to each other, there is a running start, where rowing begins before the starting line and rowers are already at full speed when they cross the start.

Starting gate: A structure at the starting line of the race. The shell is “backed” into the starting gate. Once in the gates a mechanism, or person lying on the starting gate, holds the stern of the shell.

Stern: The rear section of a shell.

Stretcher: A slang abbreviation for Foot Stretchers.

Stroke (Seat): The rower closest to the stern of the boat, responsible for the stroke rate and rhythm.

Stroke rate (also Rating): The number of strokes executed per minute by a crew.

Stroke: (a) One complete cycle through the process above; or (b) the rower in the stern of a multi-person shell, whose timing is followed by the other rowers.

Super human 20: A crew’s 20 strongest strokes, which usually occur in the middle of a race.

Sweep: A rower who rows with one oar (in both hands).  In a sweep boat, each rower has one oar. (In a sculling boat, each rower has two oars, one on each side of the boat.  RGCC only races sweep boats.)

Swing: A feeling in the boat when the rowers are driving and finishing their strokes strongly and getting good layback.

Swivel: Term for the rowlock/oarlock. Often referred as gate due to the securing bar/gate at its top.


Three-quarter / Half / Quarter slide: Shortened strokes, often used during the start of a race or in a warm-up.

Toe: In some boats without a coxswain, a rower may be able to control the rudder and steer the boat by changing the direction his foot points. This is called “toeing a boat,” and the mechanism is called a “toe.”

Top-nut: The nut which screws onto the top of the pin holding the Oarlock in place.

Tracks: See Slides

Tulip (also Macon blade): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.


Walking: When passing a boat, the coxswain announces each seat as it is passed.

Washing out: When an oar blade comes out of the water during drive and creates surface wash that causes the shell to lose power and become unsteady.

Athlete/Rower Terms

Ambidextrous: A rower who can row both on the starboard and port sides of the boat.

Bow (or bow seat): The rower closest to the front or bow of a multi-person shell. In coxless boats, often the person who keeps an eye on the water behind him to avoid accidents.

Coxswain: The oar-less crew-member, usually included, who is responsible for steering and race strategy. The coxswain either sits in the stern or lies in the bows of the boat.

Engine room: The middle rowers in the boat. In an 8-person shell, these are generally seats 5, 6, and 3 and 4 to a lesser degree. They are generally the biggest and strongest rowers.

Gimp seat: Seat 3 in an 8-person boat, often regarded as having the least responsibility.

Heavyweight: A rower who weighs more than the restrictions for lightweight rowing. Often referred to as Open weight.

Lightweight: A rower whose weight allows him or her to be eligible to compete in lightweight rowing events.

Novices: Rowers who are rowing for the first season, or (in the UK) a rower who has not won a regatta.

Port: A sweep rower who rows with the oar on the port or left side of the boat.

Sculler: A rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand.

Seat number: A rower’s position in the boat counting up from the bow. In an eight, the person closest to the bow of the boat is “bow,” the next is 2, followed by 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and finally 8 or “stroke.” In certain countries the seats are numbered the opposite way, from stroke up to bow.

Starboard: A sweep rower who rows with the oar on the starboard or right side of the boat.

Stroke (Seat): The rower closest to the stern of the boat, responsible for the stroke rate and rhythm.

Sweep: A rower who rows with one oar (in both hands).

Boat (sometimes called “shells”) Terms

In a sweep boat, each rower has one oar. (In a sculling boat, each rower has two oars, one on each side of the boat.)

Eight (8+): A shell with 8 rowers. Along with the single scull, it is traditionally considered to be the blue ribbon event. Always with coxswain because of the size, weight and speed of the boat – bow loader eights exist but are banned from most competitions for safety reasons.

Four (4-) or (4+): A shell with 4 rowers. Coxless fours (4-) are often referred to as straight fours, and are commonly used by lightweight and elite crews and are raced at the Olympics. In club and school rowing, one more frequently sees a coxed four (4+) which is easier to row, and has a coxswain to steer.

Pair (2-) or (2+): A shell with 2 rowers. The Coxless pair (2-), often called a straight pair, is a demanding but satisfying boat to master. Coxed pairs (2+) are rarely rowed by most club and school programs. It is no longer an Olympic class event, but it continues to be rowed at the World Rowing Championships. The bow loader coxed pair was nicknamed “the coffin” due to the difficulty for the cox to escape in the event of a capsize.

Equipment / Parts of the boat

The term “Rigging” is used to describe how the boat is outfitted, including all of the apparatuses (oars, outriggers, oarlocks, sliding seats, etc.) attached to a boat that allow the rower to propel the boat through the water. It is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon term wrigan or wrihan, which means “to clothe.” It literally means to outfit or clothe a boat. “Rigging” is also used to describe the configuration of the boat and settings of the apparatuses. The following terms are often associated with a boat’s rigging, along with other often used terms for equipment used in rowing.

Backstay: A brace which is part of the rigger of sweep rowing boats, which extends toward the bow from the top of the pin.

Backstop: The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the back end (towards the boat’s bow) of the slide tracks. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s stern. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “back end”).

Blade: The spoon or hatchet shaped end of the oar or sweep.

Bowloader / Bowcox / Bow-steered: When a coxswain is placed in a seat partially enclosed in the bow of the shell.

Bow: The front section of a shell.

Bow ball: An essential small, soft ball no smaller than 4 cm diameter securely attached to a rowing or sculling boat’s bow. Primarily intended for safety but also useful in deciding which boat crossed the finish line first in very close races.

Bow number: A card holding the number assigned to the boat for a race.

Canvas: The deck of the bow and stern of the boat, which were traditionally made from canvas

Cleaver blade (also Hatchet blade): Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape.

Collar / Button: A wide plastic ring placed around the sleeve of an oar. The button stops the oar from slipping through the oarlock.

Cox box: Portable voice amplifier; may also optionally incorporate digital readouts displaying stroke rate, boat speed and times.

Coxmate: A portable amplification device, similar to a cox box, incorporating a digital readout. Higher models may also have a built in radio and speed sensor.

Ergometer (also Ergo or Erg): An indoor rowing machine.

Footchock (also Footplate): An alternate name for the cross bracing which allows a rower to secure his/her feet.

Footplate (also Footchock): The piece of the boat to which the rower’s feet are attached, either by tying their actual shoes (sneakers) in, or (more often) by putting their feet into a permanently-attached pair of sneakers.

Foot stretcher: An adjustable footplate which allows the rower to easily adjust his or her physical position relative to the slide and the oarlock. The footplate can be moved (or “stretched”) either closer to or farther away from the slide frontstops.

Footstop: The shoe assembly in a shell into which each rower laces his or her feet.

Frontstop: The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the front end (towards the boat’s stern) of the slide tracks. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s stern. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “front end”)

Gunwales (also Saxboard): (Pronounced: gunnels) The top rail of the shell

Handle: The part of the oar that the rowers hold and pull with during the stroke.

Hatchet blade (also Cleaver blade): Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape.

Hull: The actual body of the shell.

Inboard: The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the handle.

Keelson: A structure timber resembling the keel, but on the inside of the shell.

Launch: A motorboat used by rowing instructors, coaches or umpires.

Leather / Sleeve: A thick piece of leather (plastic) around the oar to keep the oar lock from wearing out the wood.

Lines: The ropes held by the coxswain to control the rudder.

Loom: The part of the oar between the blade and the handle.

Macon Blade (also Spoon blade and Tulip): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.

Oar: A slender pole which is attached to a boat at the Oarlock. One end of the pole, called the “handle,” is gripped by the rower. The other end has a “blade,” which is placed in the water during the propulsive phase of the stroke. The blade portion of the oar is similar to a razor blade or a piece of paper: Essentially two-dimensional, the third dimension is very thin, although it should be noted that there is a very important element to the third dimension of the blade, namely that it is curved into a sort of hydrofoil, which helps provide much of the thrust.

Oarlock: The rectangular lock at the end of the rigger which physically attaches the oar to the boat. The oarlock also allows the rower to rotate the oar blade between the “square” and “feather” positions.

Outboard: The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the tip of the blade.

Outrigger: See Rigger

Pin: The vertical metal rod on which the rowlock rotates.

Pogies / Poagies: A type of mitten with holes on each end, which allow the rower to grip the oar with bare hands while also warming the hands, used frequently by rowers in colder climates.

Port / Portside: The left side of the boat when facing forward.

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.

Rigger: A “Rigger” is the rowing slang name for an Outrigger. It is a projection from the side (gunwale) of a racing shell. The oarlock is attached to the far end of the rigger away from the boat. The rigger allows the racing shell to be narrow thereby decreasing drag, while at the same time placing the oarlock at a point that optimize leverage of the oar. There are several styles of riggers, but they are most often a triangle frame, with two points attached to the boat, and the third point being where the oarlock is placed. Rigging is also used to describe whether a boat is stroked by a port or starboard rower (i.e., port-rigged, starboard-rigged). With sweep rowing, riggers typically alternate sides, though it is not uncommon to see two adjacent seats rigged on the same side of the boat.

Roller: The wheels upon which the seat slide travels along its track.

Rudder: Adjacent to the skeg and used by the coxswain (or in some coxless boats, by a rower using a “toe”) to steer the boat via attached cables. Extra-large rudders are used on narrower and/or bendier rivers.

Saxboard (also Gunwales): The sides and top edge of a boat, which the riggers attach – see also Gunwales

Scull: (a) An oar made to be used in a sculling boat where each rower has two oars, one per hand; or (b) a boat (shell) that is propelled using sculling oars, e.g., a “single scull,” is a one-person boat where the rower has two oars.

Seat: Molded seat mounted on wheels, single action or double action. Single action is fixed bearing wheel; double action is wheel on axle that rolls on track and rolls on horns of seat. A secondary meaning of location in the shell, the bow seat is one, and is numbered upward to the stroke seat (8, in an 8-man shell). Thirdly, can mean a competitive advantage in a race, to lead a competitor by a seat is to be in front of them by the length of a single rower’s section of a shell.

Seating: Seating positions in a racing shell are generally numbered from the bow to the stern in English-speaking countries, unlike many non-English-speaking countries which count from the Stroke forward. Generally, the forwardmost rower is called the “Bow” and the aftmost rower the “Stroke,” regardless of the number of rowers in the boat, with all other seats simply being numbered. So, for instance, the crew of an eight (with coxswain) would number off from the bow: “Bow,” “Two,” “Three,” “Four”, “Five,” “Six,” “Seven,” “Stroke,” whereas a four (with or without coxswain) or a quad would number off: “Bow,” “Two,” “Three,” “Stroke.”

Shell: The boat used for rowing.

Shoulder (also Knee): Load bearing supports that mount the rigger and attach to keel of boat.

Skeg (also Fin): Thin piece of flat metal or plastic that helps stabilize the shell in the water.

Slides (also Tracks): Hollow rails upon which a rower or sculler’s sliding seat will roll. Older shells might be convex rails with double wheels.

Slings: Folding, portable temporary boat holders. Two are required to hold a boat.

Smoothie: A blade design in which the face of the oar blade is smooth, without the traditional central spine.

Speed coach: A device mounted on the keel of some high-performance shells that determines the boat’s speed based on the speed of a small propeller and transmits this information to the cox box.

Spoon blade (also Macon blade): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.

Starboard (also Starboard side): The right side of the boat when facing forward.

Starboard rigged: A boat where the stroke rower is a starboard rower.

Starting gate: A structure at the starting line of the race. The shell is “backed” into the starting gate. Once in the gates a mechanism, or person lying on the starting gate, holds the stern of the shell.

Stern: The rear section of a shell.

Stretcher: A slang abbreviation for Foot Stretchers.

Swivel: Term for the rowlock/oarlock. Often referred as gate due to the securing bar/gate at its top.

Toe: In some boats without a coxswain, a rower may be able to control the rudder and steer the boat by changing the direction his foot points. This is called “toeing a boat,” and the mechanism is called a “toe.”

Top-nut: The nut which screws onto the top of the pin holding the Oarlock in place.

Tracks: See Slides

Tulip (also Macon blade): Traditional U-shaped oar blade.

The Stroke

Air stroke: To take a stroke without the blade having been placed in the water, resulting in a complete lack of power.

Backsplash: This term is in reference to the water thrown back toward the bow direction by the blade as it enters the water. Less is best. This indicates that the blade has been properly planted before the rower initiates the drive.

Backwater: To propel the shell backwards.

Body Angle: Amount of forward lean of rower’s body from hips at the catch.

Bury the blade: Submerge the blade totally in the water.

Catch: The part of the stroke at which the oar blade enters the water and the drive begins. Rowers conceptualize the oar blade as ‘catching’ or grabbing hold of the water.

Catch point: Where the blade enters the water.

Check: The amount of interruption of the forward movement—usually occurs at the catch and sometimes at the release.

Cover: The distance between one set of puddles and the next set of puddles.

Crab: A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an ‘over-the-head crab.’

Drive: The propulsive portion of the stroke from the time the oar blade enters the water (“catch”) until it is removed from the water (“release”).

Feather: To turn the oar so that its blade is parallel with the water (opposite of square).

Finish: That portion of the pull-through just as the oar is taken from the water.

Hands away: At the close of the drive phase, the hands move away from the body.

Hanging at the catch: The blade is hesitating at the catch point, before entering the water.

Hot seating: When two crews share the same shell, during a regatta, sometimes it is necessary for the crews to switch at the finish line without taking the boat from the water.

Inside hand: The oarsmen’s hand nearest the oar lock. This is the feathering hand.

Jumping the slide: A problem where the seat becomes derailed from the track while rowing.

Keel: The balance of the boat. Good keel means that the stability of the boat is good. “keep keel” is a command often heard from the coxswain when the boat starts to sway.

Lay-back: What the rowers have when they sit with their legs flat and lean towards the bow of the boat with their body.

Leg Drive: Power applied to the stroke, at the catch, by the force of driving the legs down. Often heard being yelled from the coach boat.

Missing water: A technical fault where the rower begins the drive before the catch is complete.

Outside hand: The hand of a rower that is placed on the end of the oar handle.

Over reach: Fault done by an oarsman when he comes to his full reach forward and then attempts to obtain even greater length by releasing his grasp on the handle with his outside hand or by bringing his outside shoulder further forward.

Pause paddling: Rowing with a pause between each stroke. The coxswain or rower giving commands will indicate where in the stroke this pause should be taken.

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

Puddles: Disturbances made by an oar blade pulled through the water. The farther the puddles are pushed past the stern of the boat before each catch, the more “run” the boat is getting.

Pull through: The portion of the stroke from the catch to the finish (when the oar is in the water). This is the propulsive part of the stroke.

Rating (also Stroke rate): The number of strokes executed per minute by a crew.

Ratio: The relationship between the time taken during the propulsive and recovery phases of a rowing or sculling action.

Recovery: The non-work phase of the stroke where the rower returns the oar from the release to the catch.

Release: At the end of the drive portion of the stroke. It is when the oar blade(s) is removed (or released) from the water.

Run: Distance a shell travels during each stroke.

Rushing: Term for when rowers move too quickly along their tracks into the catch. The boat will lose the feeling that it is gliding or “running out.”

Set: The balance of the boat. Affected by handle heights, rowers leaning, and timing, all of which affect the boat’s balance, after which the coxswain tells rowers to “set the boat”.

Shooting your slide: Term used for when an oarsman’s seat moves toward the bow faster than his shoulders.

Skying: Term used to describe a blade that is too high off the surface of the water during the recovery. The rower’s hands are too low causing an upset to the balance of the boat (the “set”).

Spacing: Distance between bowman’s puddle on one stroke and the point at which the No. 7 rower catches water on the next stroke.

Split time (split): Amount of time it takes to row 500 meters. Displayed on all ergs and on cox boxes installed on boats with speed coaches (see above).

Square: To turn the oar so that its blade is perpendicular to the water (opposite of feather).

Stroke: (a) One complete cycle through the process above; or (b) the rower in the stern of a multi-person shell, whose timing is followed by the other rowers.

Stroke rate (also Rating): The number of strokes executed per minute by a crew.

Super human 20: A crew’s 20 strongest strokes, which usually occur in the middle of a race.

Swing: A feeling in the boat when the rowers are driving and finishing their strokes strongly and getting good layback.

Three-quarter / Half / Quarter slide: Shortened strokes, often used during the start of a race or in a warm-up.

Walking: When passing a boat, the coxswain announces each seat as it is passed.

Washing out: When an oar blade comes out of the water during drive and creates surface wash that causes the shell to lose power and become unsteady.

Commands

“(#) Fall in/out”: These commands tell the rower(s) either to stop rowing or to start rowing with everyone else. (#) indicates the number of rower(s) who should start or stop – e.g., “Bow pair fall-out, stern pair fall-in in two.”

“Ahead” or “Look Ahead”: Command shouted by a crew about to be overtaken by another crew, telling the overtaking crew of their presence.

“(#) Hit it” or “(#) row on”: Tells the rowers to row until told to stop – e.g., “Two, hit it.”

“Back it”: To have the rowers place their blades at the release position, squared, and push the oar handle towards the stern of the boat. This motion causes the shell to move backwards.

“Blades Down” or “Drop”: Used to tell the rowers to place their blades back on the water after performing an easy-all.

“Blades in (side)”: Tell the rowers on one side to pull their blades in, in order to prevent hitting an object or another boat in the water, or to let another crew pass on a narrow river.

“Cant it upriver/downriver”: While carrying the shell, the athletes are commanded to hold the shell in a diagonal position, the high side as stated.

“Check it/her down”: Square the oars in the water to stop the boat.

“Count Down” (or “number off”): Tells the crew to call out their seat number, starting at the bow, when ready to row.

“Down on port/starboard”: Means that the boat is leaning to one side or the other. Rowers on the side that is down must raise their hands, and the other side must lower their hands.

“Easy” (or “ease up”): To stop rowing hard.

“Even it out” (or “even pressure”): This command tells the rowers to pull with even pressure on both sides. This is the complement to ease-up.

“Firm up”: Tells the rowers to apply more pressure as needed.

“Give her ten” (or “power ten”): Commands the crew to row 10 strokes of special effort. It is frequently given when a crew is attempting to pass another boat.

“Gunnel!”: A command by the coxswain, where the rowers all hit the gunnel (sides) of the boat with their oar handles. Used in set exercises occasionally.

“Hands in”: Tells the rowers to grab the ribs on the inside of the boat so that the boat can be rolled from heads. The coach or cox uses this command when the crew is putting the shell in the water.

“Hands on”: Tells the rowers to grab the boat next to their seats, so that the boat can be moved.

“Hands out” (or “sit ready to shove”): Tells the rowers to grab the dock in preparation for shoving off.

“Hard on port/starboard” (or “port/starboard pressure”): The rowers on that side of the boat must row harder (and the opposite side must row slightly easier) in order to facilitate a sharper turn.

“Heads” or “Heads Up”: Off the water, a shout to alert others to watch out for a boat being carried.

“Heads, ready, up”: Tells the rowers to press the boat above their heads.

“Hold it/her up”: Stop the boat.

“Hold it/her hard”: Emergency stop.

“Hold water”: Emergency stop. Also used after the command “weigh enough,” it instructs the rowers to square their blades in the water to stop the boat.

“In 2…”: Most water commands are appended prior to the command to take place after two strokes. For example “In 2, Power 10” or “In 2, Weigh-enough.”

“Inside Grip”: A command used when lifting the boat. Grab the boat so that you can lift it over your head. Grab only the gunwale or hull structure – do not lift by the footstop assembly.

“Lay Hold” (or “hands on”): Command given telling the athletes to go to their stations and grab a hold of the boat.

“Let it/her run”: To stop rowing after a given piece of on the water rowing length, but to put the handles of the oars either to the gunwales or out in front of the rower, in such a manner that the oar paddles are parallel to the water yet not touching it. This allows the boat to glide for a distance leaving no paddle wake in the water. Similar, but not exactly the same is the command “Gunnel”, where rowers push the oars until the handle touches the boat’s gunwale.

“Paddle”: Tells a crew to row with just enough pressure to move the boat. The paddle command is also used to bring a crew down from full pressure at the end of a workout piece or race.

“Pick it / Picking”: A rapid stroke where rowers use only their arms and use minimal pressure. An effective and impressive way to turn a boat when done right.

“Power 10” or “10 firm”

The command to take 10 strokes at more than full pressure. Used for passing and gaining water in a race. Sometimes “Power 5”, “Power 20”, or “Power 30.”

“AMF 10”: Ten extremely hard strokes after the yelling of the phrase AMF 10.

“Ready all, Row”: Begin rowing.

“Roll it”: Tells the crew to flip the boat over, in unison, from above their heads.

“Set it up”: Reminds the rowers to keep the boat on keel.

“Set ready”: Commands the crew to move to the catch blades buried, and be ready to start the race.

“Settle”: A command and a part of the race. This tells the rowers that the crew is going to bring the stroke rate down for the body of the race, but still maintain the pressure. This usually occurs in the middle of the race.

“Ship Oars”: Act of removing the oars from the oar locks and allowing them to float alongside the boat.

“Shoulders, ready, up”: Tells the crew to lift the boat from any position below their shoulders, up to shoulder height. Can be reversed to lower the boat from heads to shoulders, i.e., “Shoulders, ready, down!” This is the best position for carrying a shell.

“Sit in”: Tells the crew to get into the boat.

“Scull”: A command used if the stern is held by a stake boat. “Port scull” usually means Two seat takes Bow’s oar in front of him/her and rows lightly with it. Likewise, “Starboard scull” means Three seat takes Two seat’s oar and does the same. This is easier than having one seat take a stroke since it can move the boat in a more parallel direction.

“Swing it”: A command used when carrying a boat to start turning either bow or stern.

“Take the run off”: To stop rowing and hold the blades at a 45 degree angle in the water to slow the boat down.

“Touch it / Touching”: A stroke where rowers use only their arms and back. Used mostly for warm-up or to turn a boat.

“One foot up & out”: The command for exiting a team boat.

“On the square”: To row without feathering the blades on the recovery.

“Waist, ready, up”: Tells the crew to lift the shell to their waist.

“Watch your blades (side)”: Tells one side to look out at their blades, and take action to prevent them possibly hitting something.

“Weigh enough” (or “Wain…’nuff”, or “Way enough”): The command to stop whatever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing.

Race Day

Start: In head to head races, the start is one of the most important parts of the race. In head races, where boats do not race next to each other, there is a running start, where rowing begins before the starting line and rowers are already at full speed when they cross the start. In sprints (head-to-head), the start consists of the following sections:

  • Actual start: This is generally five or six partial strokes done at a high rate and in a certain pattern, i.e., three-quarter length stroke (sometimes called three-quarter slide), followed by half, half, three-quarters, three-quarters, and then a full-length stroke. The goal is to get the rowers off to a cohesive start and quickly build momentum.
  • High Ten: A set of strokes done at a high cadence immediately after the start. Not to be confused with “Power Ten,” the high ten is ten strokes at a high rating to finish building speed. Some crews may pull 15 or 20 high strokes to build even more speed.
  • Settle: Immediately after the rowers complete their high cadence strokes, the stroke tempo is lowered and the stroke lengthened to the rating to be used throughout the body of the race. Often accompanied by a Power 10 or 20. Coxswains may call a “Ten to Settle” or “Ten to Glide” to drop the cadence more gradually.

Body: The body of the race is carried out at a consistent rating, with power tens called as the coxswain deems necessary.

Repechage: The “second chance” race given to those crews which fail to qualify for the finals from an opening heat. “Rep” qualifiers move onto semi-finals or finals depending on the number of entries. Used in international racing.

Sprint: The last 500 meters of most races are generally at a much higher rating than the rest of the race, as crews pull to exhaustion.

Flutter/Shunt: In head-to-head races, the coxswain may decide to call a flutter, which is essentially the six-stroke start put into the race close to the end. The flutter may push one boat which is trailing another a few seats ahead, but is extremely demanding on a crew. In many cases, it is used as a desperation move when all other options have been exhausted.

Head race: A long race in which rowers race a twisting course of about three miles. A race for time. The start is staggered. Usually in the fall months.

Miscellaneous

Egg beater: A race where the crews are drawn randomly from a hat, so that boats are made up of members from different teams and often the lineups include coxswains as rowers and vice versa. Also known as scratch race.

Masters (or Veteran): Rowers 27 (31 – UK) years of age or greater.

Open water race: Competition on unsheltered water exposed to current, tide, wind and requiring navigation skills as well as strength, endurance, and technique. Generally uses a mass start and includes a mix of human-powered boats. Typical race distances are 6 to 26 miles.

Pot: A tankard awarded as a prize to each member of a winning crew.

Scratch crew: A crew which has not rowed with each other before.

Seat race: A method to compare two rowers in fours or eights. Two boats race against each other once. One rower from each boat switches positions, and the two boats race again. Relative performance in the two races is used to compare the abilities of the two rowers.

Sourced from Wikipedia.

Dublin Crew rowers have had many successes on the water and in school.

The team has made seven appearances at the USRowing Youth National Championships since 2006. We have placed seven rowers on USRowing Scholastic Honor Rolls. And Dublin Crew athletes have gone on to row at more than 30 colleges and universities across the United States.

View more information on the team's accomplishments.

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Dublin Crew's mission is to inspire and enable our members to achieve excellence in the sport of rowing and in life.

Dublin Crew's vision is to administer competitive rowing in accordance with U.S. Rowing, the national governing body the sport of rowing in the United States. We provide programs and services for our members, supporters, and the interested public. We value these members of the rowing community and the staff and volunteers who serve them. We are committed to excellence and the improvement of our sport. We are committed to providing a safe and positive environment for all members.

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