Rowing Glossary

Rowing glossary




Refers to the bow ending of the track a rower's seat slides on. The wheels of the seat should almost reach the backstop at the finish of each stroke.


A sweep rower adept at rowing both the port and starboard sides.


The spoon shaped end of the oar.

Boat run

The distance between the 2-seat's puddle on one stroke and the stroke seat's puddle on the following stroke. The greater the distance, the more speed the crew has.

Body Angle

The amount of forward pivot of a rower's torso stemming from the hips during the recovery for a proper catch position.


The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line.

Bow Ball

A small rubber ball attached to the bow of each shell. This is used as a safety device and for determining which crew crosses the finish line first during a close race.

Bow Number

A card attached near the bow of each shell that identifies which lane the crew is assigned to.

Bow Pair

The pair of sweep rowers in bow of the boat. This would be seats 1 and 2 in an eight or a four. The bow pair has the most effect on the set of the boat.


The person in the seat closest to the bow, who crosses the finish line first.


The term for starboard or the left side of boat.


Coloured flotation devices that mark lanes and other various areas of the race course. These are also used for marking hazards.


The moment the blade enters the water and initiates the drive of each stroke.


The reverse momentum resulting from the crew's body weight moving toward stern during the recovery. Check is unavoidable but can be minimized through proper technique for optimal speed.


Motorboat used by rowing coaches and referees.


A wide collar on the sleeve of the oar that keeps the oar from slipping through the oarlock. It can also be called a button.


A coxswain's portable voice amplifier. Also has timing and stroke rating measurement capabilities.


A shell designed for rowing without a coxswain. Usually in a pair or a four.


Person (usually small) who steers the shell and coaches for the crew on the water.


Occurs from a blade work error where a rower is unable to properly remove their oar from the water. A crab can slow down or even stop the boat. In extreme cases a crab can eject the rower from the shell.


The part of the shell on top or the bow and stern that is covered with fiberglass cloth or a thin plastic.


Rower error when the blade of the oar goes deeper in the water than it should, slowing the boat down.

Double (x2)

A sculling boat for two rowers.


Portion of the stroke that propels the boat through the water. The drive starts at the catch and ends with the release. The main power from the drive is generated by the rower's legs pushing off the foot stretchers.


Portable folding boat holders. Two are required to hold a boat and are seen frequently at regattas.

Easy Oar

A very common call by a coxswain to tell the rowers to stop whatever they are doing.

Eight (8+)

A sweep boat for eight rowers and a coxswain.

Engine Room

The rowers in the middle of a boat. For an eight, these would be seats 6, 5, 4, and 3. Generally the largest and most powerful rowers of the boat.


Also called an erg. The indoor rowing machine used for land based fitness training.


The act of rotating the oar at the finish so that the oar's blade is parallel to the water during the recovery. The opposite of the squared position.


The end of the drive when the rower removes the oar from the water and then feathers. Also called the release.


Short for Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron, the international governing body for the sport of rowing.

Foot Stretcher

The adjustable footplate with built in shoes which allows the rower to adjust their position in the shell relative to the oarlock.

Four (4+ or 4-)

A sweep boat for four rowers. Can come with or without a coxswain.


Refers to the stern ending of the track a rower's seat slides on. The wheels of the seat should almost reach the frontstop at the catch of each stroke.


The bar across the oarlock that keeps the oar in place.


The top rails of the shell. Pronounced 'gunnels'.


Part of the oar that rowers hold on to during each stroke.


The weight class in men's rowing for rowers over the lightweight restriction.


The body of the shell.


Length of the oar measuring from the button to the handle.


A rower whose weight allows them to compete in lightweight events. For men, this is usually 155 lbs and women is 130 lbs.


The part of the oar between the sleeve and the blade. Comprises the majority of the length of the oar. Also called the shaft.


An oarsman who slows a crew down. Like towing an anchor behind the boat.

Maadi Cup

A trophy given to the winner of the Boys U18 8+ at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships (NZSSC) regatta.


Device formally used by coxswains to communicate with the rowers. These were replaced by the invention or the coxbox. Megaphones are also used by coaches to communicate with the crew.

Missing Water

A rower error where the rower begins the leg drive before the catch has completed.


Any rower during their first season of competition.


Device used to drive the boat forward. An oar consists of several parts, in order from rower to water - handle, shaft, sleeve, collar, shaft and blade. The oar attaches to the boat at the oarlock.


The length of the oar measuring from the bottom to the tip of the blade.

Pair (2+ or 2-)

A sweep boat for two rowers. Can come with or without a coxswain.


A practice term used to signify a specific interval during a workout. For example, "The third piece of the 5 by 5 minutes was our best."


The angle between a squared blade and a line perpendicular to the water's surface. The standard pitch is around 4 degrees.


The disturbance in the water made by the blade during each stroke.

Quad (4x)

A sculling boat for four rowers.


The number of strokes per minute taken by a crew. During the body of the race, a crew will maintain a rating in the mid to high 30's.


The relationship between the time taken between the drive and recovery portions of the stroke. A good ratio will have about twice as much time taken during the recovery as the drive.


The portion of the stroke after the rower releases the oar from the water and returns to the catch position.


A second chance heat at a regatta to ensure that all crews have two chances to advance. These races are for all crews that didn't qualify in during the heat. It is the French word meaning 'to save' or 'second chance'.


A term used to describe how the boat is set up.


The triangular shaped metal device that is bolted onto the side of the boat and holds the oars.


Attaches to the skeg and controlled by the coxswain to steer the boat by attached cables.


The distance the shell moves during one stroke. This can be seen by looking at the distance between the puddles made by the same oar


A rower error where the rower moves toward the stern during the recovery before the rest of the crew. This increases the amount of check during each stroke.


A rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand.


One of the two disciplines of rowing. In sculling each rower uses two oars (one in each hand) to move the boat.


Moulded seat mounted on wheels that the rower sits on. The seats rolls on tracks which allow each rower to generate power with their legs.

Seat Number

Refers to the rower's position in the boat counting up from bow to stern. In an eight, these are counted as the bow seat being 1, then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and finally 8 in the stern. 8 seat is also referred to as 'stroke' seat.

Seat Race

A coach's tool for comparing two rowers. Two boats race against each other once. One rower from each boat switches positions and the two boats race again. Relative performance in the two races is used to compare the abilities of the two rowers.


Refers to a down shift in stroke rate after the start of a sprint race. Crews use the settle to get to their base stroke rating they will row the body of the race.


The part of the oar between the sleeve and the blade. Comprises the majority of the length of the oar. It's also called the loom.


Another name for the boat and is used interchangeably.

Shooting Slide

A rower error when the rower's legs drive the seat toward bow without bringing the load of the water with them through the torso and shoulders.

Single (1x)

A sculling boat for one rower.


The fin attached to the keel of the shell that helps stabilize and maintain a straight course. It's also called a fin.


A rower error where the rower drops their hands just prior to the catch. This causes the blade to move higher off the water and will disrupt the set of the shell.


A thin piece of plastic around the oar that keeps the oarlock from wearing out the shaft of the oar.


Rails that the rower's rolling seat roll on. Also called tracks.

Speed Coach

A keel mounted impeller that transmits speed to the coxswain or coach.


The amount of time it would take a rower or crew to complete 500 meters at their current pace. This can be applied to both a crew on the water or a person on an erg.


The act of rotating the oar prior to the catch so that the blade is perpendicular to the water. The opposite of the feathered position.

Start The beginning of the race. Crews will have a specified starting sequence of strokes to get the shell up to speed as quickly as possible. Stroke ratings during a start sequence range from the low 40s to the high 50s.


The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing.

Stern Pair

The pair of sweep rowers in the stern of the boat. This would be seats 7 and 8 in an eight or seats 3 and 4 in a four. The stern pair is responsible for setting the rating and rhythm for the rest of the crew.


A coxless sweep shell. Only for a pair or a four. Referred to as a 'straight four.'


One complete cycle of the catch, drive, release, and recovery.

Stroke seat

The stern most rower in the boat. Responsible for setting the stroke rating and rhythm of the crew.


The term for the right hand side of the boat.


One of the two disciplines of rowing. In sweep rowing, each rower uses on oar and is paired with another rower of the opposite side. Sweep boats are called pairs (2 rowers), fours (4 rowers), and eights (8 rowers). All three classes can include a coxswain. Pairs and fours can come without a coxswain.


The feeling in the boat when all rowers are driving and finishing their strokes together.


A way of rigging a shell so that two consecutive rowers row on the same side. Both double and triple tandems are possible.


Refers to the wake given off of a shell.

Washing Out

A rower error when an oar comes out of the water during the drive and creates surface wash. This results in a reduction in speed and can disrupt the set of the boat.


The last portion of a race. Usually the last 250 meters of the race are run at a maximum stroke rate in an attempt to get to the finish line first.