Glossary

BLADE: The end of an oar opposite the handle. The blade is the broad, flat part of an oar that helps the oar lock into the water and leverage the boat.
BOW: The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line. The person in the seat closest to the bow (seat “one”), who crosses the finish line first.
BOWBALL: The rubber ball attached to the very tip of a boat to provide protection for both the boat and anything it may bump.
BOW COXED BOAT: A shell in which the coxswain is near the bow instead of the stern. It’s hard to see the coxswain in this type of boat, because only his or her head is visible. Having the coxswain virtually lying down in the bow reduces wind resistance, and the weight distribution is better.
BOW PAIR: In an 8+ boat, the bow pair is the more technical of the rowers. They set up the balance of the boat and have the most influence on the line the boat steers.
BUTTON: A wide collar on the oar that keeps it from slipping through the oarlock. Usually referred to simply as the collar.
CLUB: A rowing program not affiliated with any one school, but rather a region, town, or city.
COXSWAIN: Person who steers the shell and is the on-the-water coach for the crew.
CRAB: A crab occurs when an oar remains in the water at the finish of a stroke and is not removed. Such an occurrence de-stabilizes and often stops the run of a boat. Thought occasionally the mistake of one rower, crabs are most often the result of poor rowing by a crew. See also “run”.
CREW: A boat of rowers, and possibly a coxswain. Also, “crew” can refer to an entire rowing program. Though often said, no one “does crew”. That is like someone saying, “I do baseball team.” Appropriate use of the term would be: “I am on the crew.” Rowers do not “play crew” or “row crew.”
DECK: The part of the shell at the bow and stern that is covered with fiberglass cloth or a thin plastic. Also, the part of a boat between the gunnels on which rowers sit.
DOUBLE: A two-rower boat in which each rower uses two oars.
EIGHT: An eight-oared shell in which each of the eight rowers uses one oar. Also, the eighth seat from the bow, or “stroke” seat. The fastest of all commonly rowed boats. Symbolized as: 8+ (the “+” indicates a cox’n in the boat.)
ERGOMETER: Rowers call it an “erg.” It’s a rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion. The rowers’ choice is the Concept II, which utilizes a flywheel and a digital readout so that the rower can measure his or her “strokes per minute” and the distance covered.
ENGINE ROOM: In an 8+ boat, the middle four rowers — are usually the less technical, but more powerful rowers in the crew.
FEATHER: Turning the handle of the oars so that the blade is parallel (flat) to the water.
FIN: The triangular shaped piece that extends down from the “hull” to help in the steering and stabilization of a boat.
FISA: Short for Federation Internationale des Societes d’Aviron. The international governing body for the sport of rowing in the world, established in 1892.
FIRST VARSITY: The top fastest combination of rowers and a coxswain in a four-oared or eight-oared boat.
FOOTBOARD: The footboard is the platform against which rowers push with their feet and legs when leveraging an oar to move the boat.
FOOT STRETCHER: The foot stretcher holds the footboard, which hold the shoes.
FOUR: A four-oared shell in which each of the four rowers uses one oar. Also, the fourth seat from the bow. Symbolized as: 4+ (with a cox’n) or 4- (without a cox’n).
GATE: The bar across the oarlock that keeps the oar in place.
GERMAN RIGGING: A different way of setting up which side of the boat the oars are on in a sweep boat. Instead of alternating from side to side all the way down, in a German rigged boat, two consecutive rowers have oars on the same side.
GUNNEL: The side of a boat that is out of water. The sides of a boat that are in the water is the “hull”
HANDLE: The end of an oar, by which a rower grips and manipulates the shaft and blade.
HEAD RACE: A long race (over 2 miles) in which crews are started one at a time. Winners and the place of a crew is determined by the time it takes a crew to cover the course.
HULL: The sides (and bottom) of a boat in the water. The gunnel, or gunnels, are the sides of the boat out of the water.
JUNIOR: A rower 18 years of age or younger.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Refers to the rowers, not the boats; there is a maximum weight for each rower in a lightweight event as well as a boat average.
NOVICE: A new rower who has been rowing less than one year. A novice can be any age or grade.
OAR: Used to drive the boat forward: rowers do NOT use paddles. Paddles are for people who have not figured the mechanical advantage of using a lever, and also one’s entire
body, to move a boat.
OARLOCK: An oarlock is attached to a pin. The oarlock holds the oar against the pin so that together they can act as a lever and fulcrum.
PIN: The pin is held in place by the rigger. The pin is the fulcrum used, with an oar as a lever, to move a boat.
PORT: Left side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of the movement.
PR: “PR” stands for “personal record”. Athletes also use “PB” for “personal best”. PR refers to one’s best time on an erg test of 2000 or 6000 meters.
REGATTA: Regattas feature side by side racing, where all the boats start at the same time from a stationary position and the winner is the boat that crosses the finish line first. The number of boats varies between two (which is sometimes referred to as a ‘dual race’) to six, but any number of boats can start together if the course is wide enough. Standard length for races is 2000 m long. Race distance varies from ‘dashes’ or ‘sprints,’ which may be 500 m long. Multi-boat competitions are usually organized in a series of rounds, with the fastest boats in each heat qualifying for the next round. The losing boats from each heat may be given a second chance to qualify through a repechage.
REPECHAGE: The second-chance race which ensures that everyone has two chances to advance from preliminary races since there is no seeding in the heats.
RIGGER: The triangular shaped metal device that is bolted onto the side of the boat and holds the pin, oarlock and oars.
ROWING: The physical act of moving a boat across water using an oar in an oarlock as a lever. An oar “blade” is placed in the water with oar “shaft” resting in the “oarlock” (and against the “pin”) midway down the “shaft”. With the “pin” acting as a fulcrum, the oar is pulled by the oar “handle”, thereby using the mechanical advantage of a lever and fulcrum system to move the boat. Rowing is NOT paddling; paddling does not employ the efficiency of mechanical advantage.
RUDDER: The rudder steers a boat. It is most often directly adjacent to the fin (or “skag”). The rudder is controlled by the cox, if present, or by one of the crew with a the rudder cable is attached to the toe of one of their shoes which can pivot about the ball of the foot, moving the cable left or right.
RUN: The run is the distance the shell moves during one stroke. You can figure it by looking for the distance between the puddles made by the same oar.
SCHOLASTIC: This term refers to rowing teams whose athletes come from one high school (public or private). See also “Club”.
SCULLING: One of the two disciplines of rowing – the one where scullers use two oars or sculls.
SEAT: The moveable platform on the deck inside a boat on which rowers sit. The moving nature of the seat allows rowers to use their legs as well as their back and arms.
SHAFT: A long, cylindrical part of an oar.
SHELL: Can be used interchangeably with “boat.”
SHOES: Shoes hold rowers feet against the “footboard”.
SINGLE: A boat rowed by one rower with two oars. The slowest of all boats commonly rowed. Symbolized by: 1x
SKAG: See “fin.”
SLIDE: The set of runners for the wheels of each seat in the boat.
SPRINT RACE: A standard rowing race. Like a swimming or track race, crews are placed in lanes next to each other. The crews start at the same time and race in a straight line to the finish. Sprint races are usually 1500m or 2000m.
SQUARE: A blade in perpendicular position to the surface of the water. A blade must be “square” in the water for the oar to leverage and move the boat. A blade that is “feathered”
is good out of the water, but useless in leveraging a boat. See also “feather.”
STARBOARD: Right side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of movement.
STERN: The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing.
STERN PAIR: In an 8+ boat, the stern pair are responsible for setting the stroke rate and rhythm for the rest of the boat to follow.
STRAIGHT: Refers to a shell without a coxswain i.e. a straight four or straight pair.
STRETCHER OR FOOTSTRETCHER: Where the rower’s feet go. The stretcher consists of two inclined footrests that hold the rower’s shoes. The rower’s shoes are bolted into
the footrests.
STROKE: The rower who sits closest to the stern. The stroke sets the rhythm for the boat; others behind him must follow his cadence.
STROKECOACH: A small electronic display that rowers attach in the boat to show the important race information like stroke rate and elapsed time.
SWEEP: One of the two disciplines of rowing – the one where rowers use only one oar. Pairs (for two people), fours (for four people) and the eight are sweep boats. Pairs and fours may or may not have a coxswain. Eights always have a coxswain.
SWING: The hard-to-define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion occurs in the shell, enhancing the performance and speed.
USROWING: The governing body of rowing in the United States.