Rowing Terms
Crew and rowing have a complete set of terms and language to describe equipement, parts, commands and techniques. It is essential, not only for respect of the sport, but also to enable a full understanding, for each member to learn the sport's language and terminology.
Blade
The flattened portion at the oar's end. Also can refer to the entire oar, including the blade end.
Blisters
What you get when you grip the oar too tightly, especially when it's wet. Band-Aids come off while rowing; try athletic tape or New Skin, both from CVS.
Bow
Front of the boat. Also the term used for the oarsman sitting in the first seat closest to the bow (seat #1).
Bow Pair
Seats #1-2; important for balance. Also Bow Four, seats #1-4.
Catch
The initial start of the drive sequence. The position of the body when the hands and seat are furthest forward (closest to the stern). The oar is placed into the water and you begin to pry the oar through the water.
Coxswain (cox)
The person who steers and gives commands to the rowers; usually seated in the back of the boat facing forward. The coxswain is also the coach of the boat. They pick out mistakes of the oarsmen and assist in making corrections.
Drive
The work portion of the stroke, when you are pushing with your legs and pulling with your back and arms.
Ergometer (erg)
A device that measures work. The rowing machine (for example, the Concept II Indoor Rower) is also called a rowing ergometer because it measures your work output while you row.
Eights
Boats with 8 sweep rowers and a cox.
Finish
The end of the drive sequence. The position of the body when the seat is at the back end of the slide (toward the bow) and the handle is close to the body, having just completed the drive. This is when you take your oar out of the water.
Foot Stretchers
The part of the boat where the oarsmens feat are attached to the boat.
Forward Body Angle
The forward position of the upper body during the recovery and at the beginning of the drive.
Gunwale ("gun'l")
The upper side edge of the boat.
Hypercompression
Excessive leg compression (hyperflexion of the knee) before the catch, defined as when the seat comes within 6 inches of the heels or when the shins go beyond vertical (leaning too far forward).
Layback
The position of the upper body at the finish of the stroke. The upper body should lean slightly backward, up to 10 degrees back from vertical.
Let it Run
Command to stop rowing.
Oarlock
Square ring with hinged gate on end of rigger; holds oar in place. Left to loosen, right to tighten. The oar lock is the fulcrum for the rowing stroke.
Pace
A measure of the effort put into each stroke. On the water, all you know is a strokes per minute (SPM) rating. The ergs can display pace in terms of how long it would take you to row 500 meters ("splits").
Paddling
Rowing very easily with low stroke rate and low intensity, a restful pace. When on the paddle the crew should continue to work on technique.
Piece
The term used to describe a work segment, such as a "2-minute piece." Pieces may be defined in either time or distance.
Port
The left side of the boat from the coxswain's view (forward); the oar sticks out to a port-rower's right.
Race Pace
The effort you could maintain for an entire race distance. Note: your race pace for 500 meters will be quite different from your race pace for 2000 meters.
Ratio
The ratio between the time spent on the drive part of the stroke and the time spent on the recovery. Ideally, spend more time on the recovery than the drive (up to 2x more).
Rating
Number of strokes per minute (SPM).
Recovery
The non-drive part of the stroke, when you are moving the oar handle and then the body from the finish back to the catch position. As the term states this is when your body is recovering in preparation for the next stroke (relax, sit up and breath).
Rigger
Metal or composite material (carbon fiber) "arms" extending from the boat to support each oar/oarlock.
Rudder
Small plastic flap for steering the boat. Mounted on skag. Controlled by strings on side of cox; push right string forward to go right, etc.
Sculls
Boats (singles, doubles, etc.) using two oars per person.
Shell
Boat with sliding seats for up to eight rowers and riggings for their oars.
Single
A one-person boat (scull). The cox must be watchful for singles (and other boats) on the river to avoid collisions.
Skeg
Fixed plastic piece beneath boat for stabilization (keel). Rudder is mounted on it. Also called a fin. The skeg (including rudder) can break off in shallow water - be careful! The skeg can also break off at the dock when placing the shell in and out of the water. The coxswain should stand at the skeg when taking the boat in and out of the water to make sure the skeg doen not hit the dock.
Slide
The rail upon which the seat slides.
Split
The work output measured at set distance or time segments during a piece. The erg can be set to display your 500 meter split for each stroke, also called the "pace."
SPM
Strokes per minute (SPM). Usually a 28-36 SPM rating is ideal for the body of a race.
Starboard ("starburd")
The right side of the boat from the coxswain's view (forward).
Stern
The back of the boat, where the coxswain sits facing the rowers.
Stern Pair
Seats #7-8. Also Stern Four, seats #5-8.
Stroke
(1) The basic rowing motion, comprised of the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. (2) The rower in the #8 seat in an eight oared shell or the #4 seat in a foar oared shell, who sets the rating and rhythm for the boat, and generally is the only rower permitted to speak while on the water.
Sweep Rowing
Rowing with one oar per person (usually in pairs, fours or eights).
Swing
The action of the upper body as it pivots at the hips during the drive, swinging from forward body angle through perpendicular to the layback position.
Weigh Enough
Command to stop rowing.
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