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Rowing Terms


See oar.


Forward part of the boat and the name given to the rower who sits in the bows.


Left-hand (Starboard) side of the boat from the rower’s point of view.


Tactical increase of speed.


Covering which encloses the bow and stern sections of the boat and is a term used to describe a leading margin by one crew over another – representing approximately 5 to 6 feet.


Moment of entry of the blade into the water at the beginning of the rowing stroke.


Intensive gym exercises done in repetition to improve muscle endurance and heart and lung function.

COX (coxswain)

The steersperson who sits facing the strokesperson and who issues instructions through a microphone/speaker system. In some case, the cox may lie full-length in the bows of the boat facing forward behind the bowsperson to improve the weight distri bution, particularly in the smaller class of racing boats.


Occurs when blade enters the water at under square position, goes too deep and gets stuck at finish. This can sometimes stop the boat.


The rowers who make up the team in an Eight, Four, Pair, Double or Quad.


(double scull) Boat with two people sculling (using two sculls each).


Eight-oared racing boat with eight rowers and a cox.


Term used to describe the four big, powerful rowers in the middle of an Eight at 6,5,4 and 3.


Short for Ergometer. A land based rowing machine used for training, that simulates the oarsman’s action in the boat.


Position of the blade being swung forward parallel to the water as the rower prepares to take the stroke.


Attached to bottom (hull) of boat for stability.


Moment of blade extraction from the water at the end of the stroke.


Four-oared racing boat with four rowers.


(rowlock or oarlock) U-shaped attachment at outer end of the rigger to hold the oar or scull in place at the pivot point.


Distance of gate position above the seat; this measurement is adjustable for best efficiency and comfort according to athlete’s size.


Carbon pole with a paddle on the end which the rower uses to row the boat along. Usually between 381 to 386cm long.


Two oared racing boat; two classes of boat – with or without cox, and the two oarspersons holding one oar each.


Angle at which the blade enters the water, fine adjustments are made by tilting the gate forward or backward, in or out.


Swirl left in the water after the blade has been extracted at the end of the stroke.


Tactical increase of speed.


(quadruple scull) Four-man racing boat in which the rowers have a pair of sculls each.


Number of strokes rowed per minute – used to advise crew of their working rate.


Rest phase during stroke cycle when rower is swinging forward to take the next catch.


Includes riggers, oars, height, pitch etc.- i.e. all adjustable elements involved in the fine-tuning preparation of a boat for racing.


Adjustable metal frame projecting from side of boat to support the gate which holds the oar or scull at the pivot point.


Steering device in the stern operated by the cox using connecting strings or wires.


Single-scull racing boat for one person using two sculls (similar to oars but smaller). The name applies to the boat and to the oar type.


Rower racing in a quad, double or single-sculling boat.


Racing rowing boat.


Runners on which the sliding seat rolls back and forward to enable the rower to use the strongest muscles in the body, the thigh quadriceps, and achieve the longest effective stroke.


Distance from the “pin” or pivot of the gate to the centre or keel of the boat.


Position of the blade at right angles or perpendicular to the water just before and as it enters for the catch, through the stroke and at the point of extraction before being rolled onto the feather for the recovery stage.


Back end of the boat.


Adjustable support for feet to which are attached flexible shoes.


The rower who sits in the stern of the boat and who sets the rhythm for the crew sitting behind. In an eight the rest of the crew are numbered from stroke – 7,6,5,4,3,2 and bow. In a Four it is stroke, 3,2 and bow. Also the term for the rowing action – as in
‘taking a stroke’


Right-hand (port) side of the boat seen from the rower’s point of view.
Rules of Racing
For a comprehensive look at the rules go to the South African Rowing website.