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About Rowing

Here is some information from our coaches to help you become familiar with rowing terminology and techniques.

Rowing Terminology

Parts of the Boat

  • Shell - the technical name of any boat built for competitive rowing
  • Bow - the front end of the boat
  • Stern - back end of the boat
  • Port - facing the bow, the left side (as a rower, this will be your right)
  • Starboard - facing the bow, the right side (as a rower, this will be your left)
  • Hull - the rounded bottom of the boat
  • Deck - the covered tops of the bow and stern
  • Gunwhale - the sides of the boat
  • Ribs - supportive structures vertical along the gunwhale
  • Tracks - parallel grooves in which the seat rolls
  • Foot stretchers - plates with shoes attached
  • Footplate - the plate to which the shoes are attached
  • Rigger - the metal bars on the sides of the boat that provide a pivot point for the oar
  • Pin / "Jesus Bolt" - the long bolt in the outboard corner of the rigger
  • Stays - each bar of the rigger; there is usually a front, middle, and back stay, though some boats have only back and middle.
  • Oar Lock - the plastic U with a locking gate through which the oar rests, and is allowed to rotate

Parts of the Oar

  • Blade - flat part at the end, should be the only part in the water during the drive
  • Shaft - black length between the blade and handle
  • Collar - black or green plastic sleeve around the shaft, sits in the oar lock
  • Button - protruding ring around the collar that rests on the inboard side of the oarlock
  • Handle - end of the oar that is held on to

Parts of the Stroke

  • Catch - Back straight, knees bent, arms extended, shins perpendicular to the hull of the boat
  • Drive - with back straight and arms extended, legs extend to flat, the body lays back, then arms pull in
  • Release/Finish - Hands tap down to lift the blade from the water
  • Recovery - arms extend, body leans forward, legs side up with controlfinish  ARMS - BODY - LEGS  catch  LEGS - BODY - ARMS

Common Coxswain's Commands

  • Commands will be given in a standard pattern, creating a rhythm to help the crew move together. This keeps everyone on the same page and safe.Ex: "Up off the rack… ready… up"
  • "Hands on / lay hold" - get to the boat, with hands on the gunwhale, prepared to pick it up
  • "Show heads" - Called before shifting from holding the boat over heads, to shoulders. Each rower, starting from the front will tilt their head to either the left or the right to show where they will go. Those toward the back must watch to go to the right side to keep even numbers on each side of the boat.
  • “Let it run” - stop rowing, let the boat glide forward on the water
  • “Weigh enough” - stop rowing/walking
  • “Hold water” - Square the blade and place it in the water, using the oar as a brakeRowers in the boat will generally be addressed by their seat number (bow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/stroke)
  • If your oar is out to your right side, you are port. Left side, you are starboard.
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