Glossary of Rowing Terms

Blade: flattened or spoon-shaped end of oar or scull; often used as term for oar
Bow: forward end of boat
Bow (man): the rower or sculler in the seat nearest the bow
Bow ball: safety ball fitted to sharp stem of racing boat
Bowside (starboard): all the rowers whose oars are in the water on the right hand side of the boat when viewed from the stern
Button: Leather or plastic sheath on oar or scull to prevent it from slipping through the rowlock; adjustable on modern oars
Cadence: Uniform stroke rate
Canvas: the canvas on fore and aft decks of a boat; in race verdicts, the distance between the bow ball and the sneak.
Catch: the part of the stroke when the blade is put in the water
Cockpit: space for a person in a racing boat
Coxswain (cox): steers the boat from a seat in the stern or a lying position in the bow
Crab: occurs when rower fails to get the oar out of the water at the end of the stroke; can result in the rower being ejected by the oar from boat to water
Crew: rowers who man a boat
Crewing: American college term for rowing
Deck: covered-over areas at bow and stern of boat
Drive: see Pull-through
Feather: to turn the blade parallel with the water surface at the start of the recovery to reduce wind resistance
Fin: small flat plate perpendicular to the bottom of the boat to aid steering a straight course
Finish (release): the part of the stroke just before and as the blade is takenout of the water
FISA: Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron; the International Rowing Federation.
Frontloader: a boat in which the coxswain lies in the bows
Gate: bar across a rowlock to retain the oar
German rig: an eight, rigged so that the outriggers or seats # 4 & 5 are on the same side, while the others alternate
Gig: inboard-or outboard-rigged pleasure or racing boat with straight gunwales
Gunwale: horizontal plank at the top of the hull running the length of the boats cockpit
Hands away: the act of dropping the oar handle at the finish of the stoke so that the blade leaves the water and is feathered at the start of the recovery; sometimes referred to as "out of bow"
Inboard: the distance between the far end of the handle of an oar or scull and the face of the button. The remainder is called the outboard
Italian rig: an eight rigged so that the bow seat and stroke seat outriggers are on the same side, with the others alternating from side to side in pairs
Keel: member running along the centre line of a wooden boat to which the ribs and knees are attached
Knee: wooden support connecting keel, gunwale, washboard and outrigger
Layback: the amount of backward lean of the rower's body towards the bow at the finish
Loom: the shaft or part of the oar between the blade and the handle
Length: the length of a boat (i.e. "won by a length")
Oar: a leaver approximately 3800 mm long by which the rower pulls against the rowlock to move the boat through the water; sometimes used as a shortened form of oarsman
Oarlock: see Rowlock
Outrigger (rigger): a metal framework or a carbon-fibre reinforced arm to support the rowlock which is placed approximately 760 mm from the centre of the boat
Port: stroke side, the left-hand side of the boat when facing the bow
Puddles: whirls left in the water caused by the blade as the rower pulls
Pull-through: the part of the stroke between the catch and the finish
Rating (beat): the rate of striking, or the number of strokes per minute that a crew is rowing.
Recovery: the part of the stroke cycle between the finish and the catch in which the oar is feathered and the seat is returned to the aft end of the slide
Regatta: a competitive event raced in boats [regata - Venetian; perhaps from riga (line), aurigare (to compete in a race), ramigium (rowing)]
Release: the finish of the stroke removing the oar from the water.
Repechage: a second heat to afford another chance of qualifying to those running second best in preliminary heats
Rhythm: the proportion of time occupied on the recovery to the time taken on the pull through
Ribs: members between the keel and gunwale for supporting the hull
Rig see German rig, Italian rig, Standard rig
Rigger: see Outrigger; Eaton name for a sculling boat
Rowing (sweep rowing): using one oar or sweep: see also crew
Rowing Ergometer: A rowing machine to measure the metabolism rate or amount of energy expended during work measured in ergs (unit of work).
Rowlock (rollock oarlock): a device which swivels on the end of the outrigger to support the oar
Rudder: steering device attached vertically to the stern or under the huII of a shell
Run: the distance a boat travels in one stroke
Saxboard: the top strake of a boat, usually of heavier planking, which carries the outriggers or rowlocks; see Gunwale
Sculling: using two oars or sculls
Sculls: a short oar used in each hand for single, double, and quad sculling boats
Shell: smooth-bottomed racing boat; ((light shells made of wood)) (Samuel Hearne, 1776); ((light narrow racing boat)) (USA 1873); ((the floating part of a racing boat)) (Oxford English Dictionary, 1895)
Shoulder: reinforcement structure in the cockpit to support the attachment of outriggers
Skiff: racing boat for single sculler (North of England); clinker pleasure boat for several passengers, sculled by one, two or three persons (River Thames)
Slide: parallel rails on which the seat which moves on wheels
Standard rig: uniform alternation of outriggers (and therefore oars and rowers) in the boat; the rower in the seat nearest the stern is usually on stoke side
Starboard: bow side, the right-hand side of the boat when facing the bow
Stateroom: see Cockpit
Stern: the rear or aft of the boat
Stretcher: a frame with straps or shoes to anchor the rower's feet
Stroke: the complete cycle of moving the boat through the water using oars or sculls; the rower seated nearest the stern
Stroke side (port): all the rowers whose oars are in the water on the left hand side of the boat when viewed from the stern
Sweep: long oars with narrow blades: see also Rowing
Swivel: a square or round pivoting rowlock
Varsity: the first crew of an American university
Wale: rounded piece of wood fixed to saxboard: see also, Gunwale
Washboard: a narrow strake placed round a boat to keep water out
Washing: creating difficulties for another boat with waves (wake) from the stern
Washing out: occurs when the blade comes out of the water during the pull-through before the finish
Wherry: Thames River ferry powered by oars

The NSWRA wishes to acknowledge the assistance of FISA in compiling this information.

The publisher believes all material produced in the N.S.W. Rowing Association Members Handbook is correctly and accurately researched. However, we give no warranty in relation thereto and disclaim liability for all claims against the publication, its employees or any person associated which may arise from any material contained within its pages which may be challenged by any persons.