Introduction to Rowing
Rowing: What is it?
Rowing is one of the few non-weight bearing sports that exercises all the major muscle groups, including quads, biceps, triceps, lats, glutes and abdominal muscles. Rowing improves cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. High-performance rowers tend to be tall and muscular: although extra weight does increase the drag on the boat, the larger athlete's increased power tends to be more significant. The increased power is achieved through increased length of leverage on the oar through longer limbs of the athlete. In multi-rower boats (2,4,or 8), the lightest person typically rows in the bow seat at the front of the boat.
Rowing is a low impact activity with movement only in defined ranges, so twist and sprain injuries are rare. However, the repetitive rowing action can put strain on knee joints, the spine and the tendons of the forearm, and inflammation of these are the most common rowing injuries. If one rows with poor technique, especially rowing with a curved rather than straight back, other injuries may surface, including back pains.
Crew is essential "rowing" and a sport in which athletes race against each other on rivers, on lakes or on the ocean, depending upon the type of race and the discipline. The boats are propelled by the reaction forces on the oar blades as they are pushed against the water. The sport can be both recreational, focusing on learning the techniques required and competitive where overall fitness plays a large role. It is also one of the oldest Olympic sports.
While rowing, the athlete sits in the boat facing backwards (towards the stern), and uses the oars which are held in place by the oarlocks to propel the boat forward (towards the bow). This may be done on a river, lake, sea, or other large body of water. It is a demanding sport requiring strong core balance as well as physical strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Whilst the action of rowing and equipment used remains fairly consistent throughout the world, there are many different types of competition. These include endurance races, time trials, stake racing, bumps racing, and the side-by-side format used in the Olympic games. The many different formats are a result of the long history of the sport, its development in different regions of the world, and specific local requirements and restrictions.
Forms of Rowing
Whilst the action of rowing and equipment used remains fairly consistent throughout the world, there are many different types of competition. These include endurance races, time trials, stake racing, bumps racing, and the side-by-side format used in the Olympic games. The many different formats are a result of the long history of the sport, its development in different regions of the world, and specific local requirements and restrictions.
In sweep rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This can be done in pairs, fours and eights. Each rower in a sweep boat is referred to either as port or starboard, depending on which side of the boat the rower's oar extends to.
In sculling each rower has two oars, one in each hand. Sculling is usually done without a coxswain, in quads, doubles or singles. The oar in the sculler's right hand extends to port (stroke side), and the oar in the left hand extends to starboard (bow side).
The distinction between rowing and other forms of water transport, such as canoeing or kayaking, is that in rowing the oars are held in place at a pivot point that is in a fixed position relative to the boat, this point acting as a fulcrum for the oar to act as a lever. In flatwater rowing, the boat (also called a shell) is narrow to avoid drag, and the oars are attached to oarlocks at the end of riggers extending from the sides of the boat. Racing boats also have sliding seats to allow the use of the legs in addition to the body to apply power to the oar. Like racing kayaks or canoes, most racing shells are inherently unstable. The rowing boats require oars on either side to prevent them from rolling over.
Rowing Races (Regattas)
Most races that are held in the spring and summer feature side by side racing also called a regatta; 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 in a race typically 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.
The standard length races for the Olympics and the World Rowing Championships is 2,000 m long, 1,500 – 2,000 m for US high school races on the east coast and 1,000 m for masters rowers (rowers older than 27).
Two traditional non-standard distance regattas are the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge and the Harvard-Yale Boat Race which cover courses of approximately four miles (roughly 6.5 km). The Henley Royal Regatta is also raced upon a non-standard distance at 1 mile, 550 yards (2,112 meters).
In general, multi-boat competitions are 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. The World Rowing Championships offers multi-lane racing in heats, finals and repechages. At Henley Royal Regatta two crews compete side by side in each round, in a straightforward knock-out format, with no repechages.
Rowing Positions
In all boats, with the exception of single sculls, each rower is numbered in sequential order, low numbers at the bow, up to the highest at the stern. The person seated on the first seat is called the bowman, or just 'bow', the rower closest to the stern is called the 'stroke'.
In addition to this, certain crew members have other titles and roles. In an 8+ the stern pair are responsible for setting the stroke rate and rhythm for the rest of the boat to follow. The middle four (called the "engine room") are usually the less technical, but more powerful rowers in the crew, the bow pair are the more technical and generally regarded as the pair to set up the balance of the boat. They also have most influence on the line the boat steers.
Weight Classes
In most levels of rowing there are different weight classes - typically "open" or "heavyweight" and lightweight. Competitive rowing favours tall, muscular athletes due to the additional leverage height provides in pulling the oar through the water as well as the explosive power needed to propel the boat at high speed. Open or heavyweight rowers of both sexes tend to be very tall, broad-shouldered, have long arms and legs as well as tremendous cardiovascular capacity and very low body fat ratios. Olympic or International level heavyweight male oarsmen are typically anywhere between 6'3" and 6'9" (190 cm to 206 cm) tall with most being around 6'6" (198 cm) and weighing approximately 225 lb (102 kg) with about 6 to 7% body fat. Heavyweight women are slightly shorter at around 6'1" (180 cm) and lighter than their male counterparts.
Lightweight Class
Unlike most other non-combat sports, rowing has a special weight category called lightweight (Lwt for short). According to FISA, this weight category was introduced "to encourage more universality in the sport especially among nations with less statuesque people". The first lightweight events were held at the World Championships in 1974 for men and 1985 for women. Lightweight rowing was added to the Olympics in 1996.
At the international level the limits are:
     •  Men: Crew average 70 kg (155 lb) - no rower over 72.5 kg (160 lb)
     •  Women: Crew average 57 kilograms (125 lb) - no rower over 59 kg (130 lb)
Olympic lightweight boat classes are limited to:
     •  Men's double (LM2x)
     •  Men's four (LM4-)
     •  Women's double (LW2x)
At the junior level (in the United States), regattas require each rower to weigh in before their race; they are sometimes given two chances to make weight at smaller regattas, with the exception of older more prestigious regattas, which allow only one opportunity to make weight. For juniors in the United States, the lightweight cutoff for men is 160 lb.; for women, it is 130 lb. In the fall the weight limits are increased for women, with the cutoff being 135 lb.
At the collegiate level (in the United States), the lightweight weight requirements can be different depending on competitive season. For fall regattas (typically head races), the lightweight cutoff for men is 160 lb. and 135 lb. for women. In the spring season (typically sprint races), the lightweight cutoff for men is 160 lb., with a boat average of 155 lb. for the crew; for women, the lightweight cutoff is 130 lb.
Women in Rowing
Stone Bridge Rowing Club is a co-ed club and growing in popularity among women and student athleats. However, for most of its history, rowing has been a male dominated sport. Although rowing's roots as a sport in the modern Olympics can be traced back to the original 1896 games in Athens, it was not until the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal that women were allowed to participate — well after their fellow athletes in similar sports such as swimming, athletics, cycling, and canoeing.
Due to Title IX, there has been a surge in women's collegiate rowing. Because Title IX mandates equal money spent on men's and women's sports, rowing is particularly useful due to the extremely high costs of equipment per athlete. Therefore, many schools open a rowing program only to women to financially counteract the prevalence of men's sports.  In the United States, it is important to note that Women's Rowing is an NCAA sport, while Men's Rowing chooses to remain governed by its own regulatory body, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA). The IRA, formed in 1895, preceded the NCAA by at least ten years and provided a guideline for the rules of eligibility and sportsmanship later adopted by the NCAA when it was formed.
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