Sept 18 – Parents Week – Terms you hear

There are a lot of terms in rowing.  Its basically another language.  As we put this list together, we realize that to non-rowers, we must sound like lunatics.

We took our knowledge of rowing [its a lot of years], checked it agains, and a number of other rowing websites and dialed in the ones we though were important.  We have even included a copy that you can print and take with you to regattas! >> parent week – terms you hear

Here are 122 words that you will hear around rowing:

·      Aligner – An official who is responsible for aligning boats evenly for a fair start.
·      Back it Down – Rowing backwards. Usually used when landing, pulling into a stakeboat, or turning around.
·      Backsplash – The splash produced by the blade entering the water at the catch while the blade is moving toward the bow.
·      Blades – The wide flat section of the oar at the head of the shaft, also known as the spoon. This term is often used when referring to the entire oar.
·      Bow – The forward section of the boat; the end that crosses the finish line first. Also refers to the first seat rower, who occupies the seat farthest forward.
·      Bow ball – A round rubber protrusion attached to the boat’s bow for protection.
·      Bow coxed boat – A shell in which the coxswain is near the bow instead of the stern. It’s hard to see the coxswain in this type of boat, because only his head is visible. Having the coxswain virtually lying down in the bow reduces wind resistance, and the weight distribution is better.
·      Bow four – Seats one through four in the bow end of the boat.
·      Bow pair – Seats one and two in the bow end of the boat.
·      Bucket rig – A rigging arrangement of an eight or four, where riggers two and three are on the same side of the boat.
·      Button – A wide collar on the oar that prevents the oar from slipping through the oarlock.
·      Cadence – The rowing stroke tempo. In a coxed boat, the coxswain often calls the cadence to keep the rowers synchronized.
·      Catch – Stroke phase at the instant the oar blade enters the water. The rower is at full compression up the slide, and tries to reach as far as possible to obtain a long stroke. The boat is at its greatest moment of instability during the catch, placing a premium on balance.
·      Check – An abrupt deceleration of the boat caused by uncontrolled motion within the shell; usually a result of poor rowing technique.
·      Check it down and Hold water – A coxswain’s call that commands all rowers to drag their blades through the water perpendicularly, braking the boat.
·      Cockpit – The area is a shell that holds the rowers and houses the seat, the tracks, and the footstretcher.
·      Collar – A ring around the oar sleeve, designed to position the oar and prevent slippage.
·      Cox box – A battery-operated electronic device that combines a digital stroke rate monitor and elapsed time readout with a voice amplifier; the coxswain uses the cox box to manage the race and to make his or her commands more audible to the crew. The coxswain typically wears a headband-mounted microphone, which is attached by a wire to the cox box.
·      Coxswain, cox – Pronounced “cox-en,” The coxswain is the person that steers the boat. He/she is a coxswain or cox’n or cox and he/she is coxing a boat. A cox’n usually uses an electronic amplifier system called a CoxBox™. It not only amplifies the cox’n’s voice through a speaker system, but it has a built in stroke rate meter and a timer. Some boats, usually fours, may have a lie-down coxswain’s position in the bow end instead of the sit-up position in the stern.
·      Coxswain: Person who steers the shell and is the on-the-water coach for the crew.
·      Crab – A crab is an event when a rower or sculler is unable to extract the oar blade from the water at the finish of the drive (pulling phase of the stroke) and a sloppy stroke occurs. This can happen when a rower loses grip of the handle, makes an error in judging when to extract or release the blade from the water, or if the boat tips to the side and there’s nowhere for the rower to lower his/her hands to extract the blade.
·      Crew – American term for the sport of competitive rowing. Also used to refer to a particular rowing team. The term crew is used in American schools and colleges to designate the sport of rowing, such as Osprey Oars’ Crew. When outside of the academic sphere, the sport is known as rowing, as in the United States Rowing Association. The British and European universities and schools have rowing clubs and not crew clubs or varsity crew. When you use the term crew you shouldn’t use the term team. Traditionally, crew means a team of rowers. To say crew team is redundant. You may say rowing team.
·      Deck – The closed-over portion of the hull at the bow and stern. The deck sheds water and strengthens the hull.
·      Dig deep – To thrust an oar too deeply into the water, resulting in loss of power. Synonymous with knife-in.
·      Double – Seats two oarsmen, each individual with one oar. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Drive – Stroke phase during which the rower presses with his or her legs against the foot stretchers and pulls on the oar(s) to force the blade through the water and propel the boat. The drive phase is a coordinated full-body movement using the legs, back and arms. The rower remains upright during the first half of the drive. Midway through, after the knees come down, the rower leans back and pulls the oar(s) in with his or her arms. Ideal technique keeps the blade(s) just below the surface of the water and accelerates smoothly from start to the finish.
·      Eight, eight-man shell – Boat that seats eight rowers and a coxswain. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Engine Room – The middle seats in a shell that are usually occupied by the biggest and strongest rowers.
·      Erg test – An equivalent distance race simulation performed by an individual rower on an erg machine for a recorded time. Erg tests measure strength and conditioning progress, and aid coaches in selecting rowers for specific boats and seat positions.
·      Ergometer: Rowers call it an “erg.” It’s a rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion. The rowers’ choice is the Concept II, which utilizes a flywheel and a digital readout so that the rower can measure his “strokes per minute” and the distance covered.
·      Feather, feathering – Rotating the oar in the oarlock so the blade is parallel to the water surface. Feathering the blade while it is out of the water minimizes air resistance.
·      Fin (or Skeg) – The small piece of metal or plastic attached to the bottom of the boat to help it keep a straight course through the water.
·      Finish – The last phase of the drive, just before the before the release. Power is coming mainly coming from the back and arms at the finish.
·      FISA: Short for Federation Internationale des Societes d’Aviron. The international governing body for the sport of rowing in the world, established in 1892.
·      Foot Stretcher – Also stretcher; an adjustable platform with two inclined footrests that hold the rower’s shoes. The shoes are bolted into the footrests. The rower pushes his legs against the foot stretcher during the drive phase of the stroke.
·      Four, four-man shell – Boat that seats four rowers, with or without a coxswain. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Frontstops – The stops at the stern end of the tracks.
·      Gate: The bar across the oarlock that keeps the oar in place.
·      German rigging – A variation in the arrangement of oars in a sweep boat. Instead of alternating from side to side, two consecutive rowers have oars on the same side in a German-rigged boat. Also, see bucket rig.
·      Grip – The rubber or wood part of the oar handle you hold while sculling.
·      Gunwales – Pronounced “guh-nells,” these are the top edges of the sides of the boat, where the riggers attach.
·      Half Pressure – The application of power in a shell such that the rowers are pulling half as hard as possible.
·      Hang – Pause at the catch before dropping the blades into the water. Also the suspension of one’s body weight from the oar handles and the footstretchers.
·      Head Race – In the fall season there are head races. The name comes from a traditional English race called the Head of the River. The first head race in the US was the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge/Boston begun in 1965.
·      Heats – The initial races to determine who advances to the finals.
·      Henley Races – Henley races are named after a style of racing conducted at the famous Henley Royal Regatta on the River Thames in England. The river is narrow at Henley so only two boats race at a time and the loser is eliminated and the winner goes on to the next round. This format is popular for narrow and/or short race courses in the U.S.
·      Hull – The outer skin of a racing boat, usually constructed of fiberglass, wood or—more commonly today—carbon fiber.
·      Inboard: This is primarily used to refer to the length of the oar from the button to the end of the handle.
·      Keel – Centerline of the boat. Also refers to the lateral steadiness of the boat. An unbalanced boat is said to be off keel.
·      Layback – Degree of backward lean of the rower’s body at the end of the finish.
·      Let it run – Coxswain’s call for all rowers to stop rowing, permitting the boat to glide through the water. Used after the boat crosses the finish line, and during drills to improve lateral balance.
·      Lightweight: Refers to the rowers, not the boats; there is a maximum weight for each rower in a lightweight event as well as a boat average.
·      Lunge – An abrupt lean of the body just before the catch, which can throw a rower oarsmen out of synch with the rest of the crew.
·      Missing water – A late catch, resulting in a shorter drive and, thus, less propulsion of the boat.
·      Novice – A first-year rower. While novice high school rowers tend to be freshmen, the term precisely refers to a rower in his or her first season, without regard for academic grade level. FSRA eliminated the novice class from state championship competition in Fall 2002.
·      Oar – A lever used to propel the boat forward. Rowers do not use paddles.
·      Oarlock – A square latch that holds the oar at the outer point of the rigger. The oarlock is the pivot point for the oar; the fulcrum of the lever.
·      Oarsman; oarswoman – A rower.
·      Off keel – An unbalanced boat.
·      Outboard – The distance from the face of the collar to the tip of the blade.
·      Outrigger – A rigger.
·      Paddle – To row or scull at very light pressure.
·      Pair – Seats two oarsmen-each individual with two oars. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Piece – A period of work performed in a shell.
·      Pin – The metal cylinder on which the oarlock swivels.
·      Pitch: Pitch refers to deviations from the vertical of the pin. It is discussed in degrees
·      Port – The left side of the boat when facing forward (toward the bow); to the coxswain’s left and the rowers’ right.
·      Power 10: A call for rowers to do 10 of their best, most powerful strokes. It’s a strategy used to pull ahead of a competitor.
·      Puddle – The swirl of water left by each stroke.
·      Pyramid – A training technique designed to build strength and endurance, during which the coxswain calls an increasing cadence of power strokes (Power 10, Power 20, etc.), each separated by a cadence of normal strokes, and followed by a decreasing cadence of power strokes.
·      Quad (4x) – A four person sculling shell. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Race pace – A strokes per minute rating that a rower or boat is capable of sustaining for an entire race.
·      Racing start – The opening strokes of a race, typically rowed at a high cadence to accelerate the boat.
·      Rating – The number of strokes per minute. Also known as stroke rating.
·      Ratio – The ratio of the recovery time to the drive time. The recovery time should always be longer than the drive time.
·      Recovery – Part of the stroke when the blades are held out of the water while preparing for the next stroke.
·      Regatta – An organized crew competition. A high school regatta may have races in the following men’s and women’s classes, for four- and eight-seat boats: varsity, junior varsity (JV), lightweight, freshman, and novice. FSRA voted in Fall 2002 to eliminate the novice class from its state championships.
·      Release – Stroke phase, starting the rowing stroke or following the finish of the drive (take your pick), when the blade(s) exit the water. The release is a sharp downward and away-from-the-body movement of the hand(s), causing the oar blade to rise. After the blade exits the water, the rower feathers the oar.
·      Repêchage –  French term, pronounced rep-eh-shahj, from repêcher, “to finish up again.” The repêchage is a second qualifying heat for a boat that has already lost, providing a second chance to advance to the finals.
·      Rig, rigging – The way in which riggers are arranged in a shell, which in turn dictates how the oars and rowers are arranged. Also refers to the process of preparing the boat for use.
·      Rigger – A triangular-shaped metal frame that is bolted onto the gunwale for each oar position. The outboard end of the rigger is the pivot point—or fulcrum—for the oar.
·      Rigging – Attaching and adjusting the riggers.
·      Rowing – Propelling a boat with a lever. Rowing can be a general term to mean rowing a boat with one oar per person or two oars per person. To be more specific, when a person is rowing with one oar then he/she is rowing using a sweep oar, and when rowing with two oars, he/she is sculling with a pair of sculls. Pulling is rowing on open-water (ocean, open bays, etc).
·      Rudder – A small fin on the bottom of the boat that the coxswain uses to steer the boat.
·      Rudder cable – A rope or cable operated by the coxswain to turn the rudder.
·      Run – The distance over water that the boat covers during one stroke. Run can be visually measured by estimating the distance between successive catches or puddles made by the same oar.
·      Rush the slide – To move from the recovery to the catch too quickly, often the result of a lunge.
·      Scull – Oar designed for rowing with a single hand; smaller than a sweeping (two-hand) oar.
·      Sculler – A rower who sculls.
·      Sculling – Rowing with two oars, one in each hand (an oar rigged on each side of the boat).
·      Seat – The sliding seat the rower sits on. Seat also refers to the rower’s sequential position in the boat; seat positions are numbered from bow to stern. The rower closest to the bow is the One Seat, the next is the Two Seat, and so on.
·      Seat Tracks: The tracks upon which the seat rolls.
·      Set – The boat’s balance; a delicate state influenced by each rower’s body lean, timing, and rowing technique, and by the boat’s design.
·      Settle – Part of the race or piece where you decrease the rating from the initial high rate to a lower rate that is maintained until the final sprint.
·      Shell – A crew boat; used interchangeably with boat. It is perfectly correct to call a rowing or sculling boat a boat. Another term that is used is racing shell or just shell. Either term is commonly used when referring to a boat that is used for racing.
·      Single [1x] – Boat that seats one rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand. View more information on boat types and sizes.
·      Skying – Poor catch technique in which the blade only skims the water surface, causing a loss of power.
·      Sleeve: The wide section of plastic on the oar shaft that fits precisely in the oarlock and guides the oar into the feather and square position.
·      Slide – Set of two runner tracks for the wheels mounted underneath each seat in the boat, also known as tracks
·      Slings (or boat slings) – Collapsible or portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be temporarily be placed.
·      Span – Distance between the pins on a sculling shell.
·      Spread – Distance between the pin and the centerline of the shell.
·      Sprint – The last 500 meters of a race. Also refers to a race substantially shorter than 2,000 meters, or shorter than 1,500 meters in high school competition.
·      Square – To turn the blade perpendicular to the water surface. The blade is squared at the end of the recovery, in preparation for the catch.
·      Stakeboat – Fixture at the starting line of a sprint race that holds a person who holds the stern prior to the start of the race.
·      Starboard – The right side of the boat when facing forward (toward the bow); to the coxswain’s right and the rowers’ left.
·      Steady State – Long, aerobic piece.
·      Stern – The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing.
·      Stern-four – Seats eight through five in an eight-boat.
·      Stern-pair – Seats eight and seven in an eight-boat.
·      Straight – A boat that races with no coxswain.
·      Stretcher or Foot-stretcher: Where the rower’s feet go. The stretcher consists of two inclined footrests that hold the rower’s shoes. The rower’s shoes are bolted into the footrests.
·      Stroke – The complete rowing motion, consisting of the release, recovery, catch, drive and finish. Also refers to the rower closest to the coxswain in the stern (the eight-seat position in an eight). This individual is usually the rower with the best combination of strength, technique and consistency, as he or she sets the tempo for the other rowers, based upon the coxswain’s cadence calls.
·      Stroke rate, rating – The rowing cadence; stroke speed in strokes per minute.
·      StrokeCoach: A small electronic display that rowers attach in the boat to show the important race information like stroke rate and elapsed time.
·      Sweep – Sweeping is the opposite of sculling; a sweep rower rows with one oar on one side of the boat. Pairs (two people), fours (four people) and eights (eight people) are sweep boats. Pairs and fours may or may not have a coxswain. Eights always have a coxswain. Sweep also refers to an oar designed for use with two hands.
·      Swing: The hard-to-define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion occurs in the shell, enhancing the performance and speed.
·      Toe – To operate a rudder that’s controlled by the foot.
·      Track – U-shaped piece of metal that keeps the sliding seat wheels on a straight path. Each slide has two tracks.
·      Unisuit – A body-fitting one-piece garment made from a spandex elastomeric fiber such as DuPont Lycra®. Unisuits are usually worn by rowers only during regattas, and the rules of rowing require that each crew (i.e. team) wear identical unisuits. (Spandex shorts are often worn during practice, since baggy shorts or sweats could become tangled in the sliding-seat wheels.)
·      Washing Out: Not keeping the blade buried during the drive.
·      way-enough or way’nuff –  When a crew is to stop rowing, the cox’n, coach or someone will call way-enough or way’nuff. This is a 19th Century American naval term that has carried on through to today. It should not be confused with weigh as in weigh anchor (unless your racing shell has an anchor). Outside of North America, way’nuff is not used.

Complete list of rowing terms:


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