• Equipment Terms
  • Rowing Cycle Terms
  • Other Terms of Interest
  • Divisions
  • blades – the wide, flat section of the oar at the head of the shaft, also known as the spoon; term often used when referring to the entire oar
  • button (or collar) – a plastic or metal fitting tightened on the oar to keep the oar from slipping through the oarlock
  • foot stretcher (or boot stretchers) – an adjustable bracket in a shell to which the rower’s feet are secured in some sort of shoe or clog
  • gunwale (or gunnels, sax board) – top section on the sides of a shell which runs along the sides of the crew section where the rowers are located; the riggers are secured to the gunwale with bolts
  • keel – the center line of the shell
  • oarlock (or rowlock) – 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
  • pitch- the angle between the blade (on the drive when the blade is ‘squared’) and a line perpendicular to the water’s surface
  • rigger (or outrigger) – the device that connects the oarlock in the shell and is bolted to the body of the shell
  • 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
  • rudder – steering device at the stern; in turn is connected to some cables (tiller ropes) that the coxswain use to steer the shell
  • scull – term used interchangeably when referring to one of the oars used in a sculling shell, the shell itself or to the act of rowing a sculling 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 when rowing; all racing shells have a skeg, not to be confused with the rudder
  • slide (or track) – the track on which the seat moves
  • slings (or boat slings, or trestles) – collapsible, portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be placed
  • release – a sharp downward (and away) motion of the hand, which serves to remove the oar blade from the water and start the rowing cycle
  • feathering – the act of turning the oar blades from a position perpendicular to the surface of the water to a position parallel to the water; done in conjunction with the release
  • 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
  • catch – the point of the rowing cycle at which the blade enters the water at the end of the recovery and is accomplished by an upward motion of the arms only; the blade of the oar must be fully squared at the catch
  • drive – that part of the rowing cycle when the rower applies power to the oar; more (or less) blended sequences 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
  • layback – the amount of backward lean of the rower’s body at the end of the finish
  • bow – the forward end of the shell; also used as the name of the person sitting nearest to the bow
  • stern – the rear end of the shell
  • port – the left side of the boat facing the bow
  • starboard – the right side of the shell when facing the bow
  • coxswain – the person who steers the shell and urges the rowers on during practices and in a race; a knowledgeable coxswain can also serve as a coach for the rowers and can be the difference between winning and losing a race
  • the stroke – the rower sitting nearest the stern (and the coxswain, if there is one); responsible for setting the stroke length and cadence (with the coxswain’s gentle advice)
  • ratio – the ratio of the recovery time to the drive time; recovery time should always be longer than the drive
  • rating – the number of strokes per minute; also known as stroke rating
  • set (set of a boat) – The definition that comes closest to what rowers mean by the set of a boat is “form or carriage of the body or of its parts.” The ‘body’ consists of the shell and the rowers. It is not unusual for rowers within a shell not to agree on what needs to occur to establish a “good” set, or a level, stable shell that will provide the basis for that symphony of motion. Items that can affect the set of the boat are:
    • rower’s posture, hand levels

    • rigging (the favorite culprit, especially with the more advanced rowers)

    • timing at the catch and release

    • outside conditions such as the wind

    • backsplash – refers to the water thrown back towards the bow direction (towards the direction of motion of the shell) by the blade as it enters the water at the catch

    • check – any abrupt deceleration of the shell caused by some uncontrolled motion within the shell; an interruption in the forward motion of the shell

    • crab - a problem encountered by a rower when his or her oar gets ‘stuck’ in the water, usually right after the catch or just before the release, and is caused by improper squaring or feathering. The momentum of the shell can overcome the rower’s control of the oar. In more extreme cases, the rower can actually eject from the shell by the oar.

    • jumping the slide – another problem encountered by a rower when the seat becomes derailed from the track during the rowing cycle

    • missing water – the rower starts the drive before the catch has been completed (or even started in some cases); also referred to as a rowing into the catch

    • skying – the fault of carrying the hands too low during the recovery especially when a rower dips his or hands just prior to the catch (a sort of winding up); usually results in the blade being too high off the water’s surface

 

Races classify into divisions: Men’s (M), Women’s (W), Heavyweight (HWT) or Open, Lightweight (LWT), etc. The divisions divide into 8+’s, 4+’s, and so on. There may be separate heavyweight and lightweight divisions. Lightweights may require a weigh-in before the start of the regatta.

The boats are usually shown on regatta schedules as follow:

  • NM4 - Novice Men's 4
  • NM8 - Novice Men's 8
  • 1M8 - First Men's 8
  • 2M8 - Second Men's 8
  • 3M8 - Third Men's 8
  • FM8 - Freshmen Men's
  • 8LM8 - Lightweight Men's 8
  • 1W8 - First Women's 8
  • 2W8 - Second Women's 8
  • OW4 - Open Women's 4
  • FW8 - Freshmen Women's 8
  • W or  M1x - Scull (single rower)

A (+) is often used to indicated a boat with a coxswain.