Rowing BasicsUpdated Monday July 4, 2016 by Mountain Lakes Rowing Club.
Types of Boats
MLRC only races sweep boats or shells. We race shells that hold 2 rowers, 4 rowers and a coxswain and 8 rowers and a coxswain.
Competitive rowing events are called regattas. There are two basic type of rowing races, sprints and head races.
Each seat in the boat is numbered according to its position going from bow to stern. In an eight, the seats are 1 to 8 and the coxswain. The #1 seat (the seat closest to the bow) is called "bow seat". The rowing seat closest to the stern is called "stroke".
The coxswain (pronounced “cox-in”) is responsible for steering, race commands, race strategy, and motivating the crew. The coxswain either sits in the stern or lies in the bow of the boat. The FISA (International Rowing Federation) requires that coxswains in men’s crews weigh a minimum of 121.25 lbs. For women, the weight minimum is 110.23 lbs. If a cox is underweight, he/she must carry sandbags to bring them above the minimum.
There are two types of weight categories in rowing: open weight and lightweight.
MLRC divides its team into two categories: Novice and Varsity
Directions In A Boat
Stern - the back end of the boat
Bow - the front end of the boat where the bow ball is located
Port - the left side of the boat from the coxswain's view; the right side from the rower's perspective as the rower is facing the stern
Starboard - the right side of the boat from the coxswain's view, the left side from the rower's perspective
The coxswain always faces the direction the shell is going while the rowers face the rear
Catch - The beginning of the rowing stroke where the oar blade is set in the water
Crab - When the oar is not released cleanly from the water. A rower "catches a crab" when the oar gets stuck in the water at the finish
Drive - The part of the stroke where the blade is pulled through the water.
Feathering - Rotating the oar in the oarlock with the inside hand so that the blade is parallel to the water
Finish - The final part of the stroke where the blade comes out of the water.
Leg Drive - Pushing with the legs against the foot stretchers on the drive
Missing Water - Not getting the blade into the water soon enough causing one to miss part of the beginning of the stroke (sometimes called rowing into the water)
Puddles - Made when the blade is released from the water. Run can be judged by the distance between puddles
Recovery - The part of the stroke where the rower comes slowly up the slide to return to the catch
Release - Pushing down on the handle to raise the blade out of the water at the end of the stroke to begin the recovery
Run - The distance the boat moves after the release while the rower is on the recovery
Rushing The Slide - Coming up the slide to the catch too fast causing one's weight to be thrown toward the stern causing the boat to check (slow down)
Skying - Coming to the catch with the blade too high above the surface of the water
A good coxswain is just as important as the rowers and through good steering, calling a good race plan and motivating the crew can make the difference between winning and losing.
Check It Down - A call for all rowers to square their blades and drag them through the water in order to slow down or stop the boat. The call can also be made for certain rowers only, such as, "check it on port" or "stern pair check it down". "Check it down hard" usually means there is an emergency and the boat needs to be stopped immediately.
Hold Water - A call for the rowers to square their blades in the water while the boat is sitting still. This keeps the boat in a set place.
Let It Run - A call for all rowers to sit with blades off the water at the finish, allowing the shell to glide through the water.
Power 10 - A call for the rowers to take "power" strokes, giving it everything they can for a certain number of strokes. This is used in races to make a move on another crew.