Rowing Glossary

Rowing Boat Terms

Hull – the actual boat. The hull is very thin and fragile. It scratches and can be punctured easily. Be especially careful when moving the boat, always listening to the commands of the coach and the coxswain.

Decks – there are both stern and bow decks on the shell. These decks form compartments to trap air for flotation in the event of swamping or flipping.

Vents – There are vent hatches in both the bow and stern decks. When closed they trap air; when open they allow air flow to dry out any moisture in the fore and aft compartments. It is the responsibility of the coxswain and bow seat to close the deck vents. There are often vent hatch covers under the seats also. These allow access for adjustments to the seat tracks.

Keel – runs the length of the hull, down the center, for structural support.

Seat – on wheels that allow forward and back movement. Also a rower’s place and # in the boat.

Tracks – guides in which the seat wheels roll (also called slides).

Foot Stretcher – adjustable plate to which the shoes are attached, allowing adjustment for length.

Rigger – metal or composite “arm” attached to the exterior of the boat that holds the oar.

Oarlock – “U” shaped plastic part in which the oar is placed.

Gate – screw-down rod that keeps the oar from coming out of the oarlock.

Shaft – the long straight main section of the oar; usually composite.

Blade – the flat part of the oar that enters the water. Either hatchet shaped or, in older oars, tulip.

Handle – the oar part you hold on to; may be wood or composite with rubber grips.

Sleeve – plastic plate about 2/3 up the shaft that goes in the oarlock.

Collar – plastic piece attached around the sleeve that is pressed against the oarlock keeping the oar in the proper place.

Clam – a clip-on plastic piece that fits against the collar adjusting the load on the oar.


Rowing Shells

Single – one rower with two oars (scull)

Double – two rowers, each with two oars (scull)

Quad – four rowers, each with two oars (scull)

Pair – two rowers, each with one oar (sweep)

Straight Four – four rowers, each with one oar (sweep)

Four With – four rowers, each with one oar and a coxswain (sweep)

Eight – eight rowers, each with one oar and a coxswain (sweep)


Rowing Terms

Catch – The beginning of the rowing stroke where the oar blade is set in the water.

Drive – The part of the stroke where the blade is pulled through the water.

Finish – The final part of the stroke where the blade comes out of the water.

Release – Pushing down on the handle to raise the blade out of the water at the end of the stroke to begin the recovery.

Recovery – The part of the stroke where the rower comes slowly up the slide to return to the catch.

Feathering – Rotating the oar in the oarlock with the inside hand so that the blade is parallel to the water.

Leg Drive – Pushing with the legs against the foot stretchers on the drive.

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).

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).

Washing Out – Raising the blade out of the water before the finish of the stroke.

Skying – Coming to the catch with the blade too high above the surface of the water.

Run – The distance the boat moves after the release while the rower is on the recovery.

Puddles – Made when the blade is released from the water. Run can be judged by the distance between puddles.

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.


Directions in the 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.