Basic Rowing Terms

Blade: The oar; also the end of the oar which is placed in the water.

Bow: the front end of the boat; also used as the name of the person sitting nearest the bow.

Bowball: A round rubber protrusion attached to the bow of a boat for protection.

Bowman: The oarsman who sits nearest the bow.

Catch: The oar blade entering the water at the beginning of the stroke.

Collar (or Button): A plastic or metal fitting tightened to the oar to keep the oar from slipping

through the oarlock.

Crab: A stroke that goes bad. The oar blade slices into the water at an angle and gets caught

under the surface. 

Coxswain: The helmsman, who has two important jobs: To keep the boat moving straight by making minor corrections to the rudder, and to keep the oarsmen rowing at the desired stroke rate.


Dumps: Collapsible/portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be placed. 

Erg(ometer): A rowing machine designed to simulate the actual rowing motion; used for training and testing.

Feathering: Turning the oar blade flat during the recovery to lessen wind resistance.

Fin (or skeg): A small flat appendage located along the stern section of the hull which helps stabilize the shell in holding a straight course.

Finish: The oar blade leaving the water at the end of the stroke. 


Foot stretcher (or clogs or shoes): An adjustable bracket in a boat to which rowers feet are secured.

Gunwale (or gunnel): That part of a shell which runs along the sides of the crew compartment through which the riggers are bolted.

Handle: The end of the oar you hold in your hand.

Keel: The center line of the shell.

Oarlock: A U-shaped swivel which holds the oar in place. It is mounted at the end of the rigger and rotates around a metal pin. A gate closes across the top to keep the oar in place.

Pitch: The angle between a "squared" blade and a line perpendicular to the water’s surface.

Port side: Left side of the boat, as facing the bow.

Recovery: The time between strokes, the oar blade traveling through the air.

Ribs: The name given to that part of the boat to which the skin of the hull is attached. They are typically made of wood, aluminum or composite materials and provide structural integrity. The riggers bolt to the ribs.

Rig: The arrangement of the oars or sculls, the mechanical "set-up" - which can vary according to size, strength, experience and technique of a given crew.

Rigger: The assembly of tubes which are tightly bolted to the hull to which are attached an oarlock.

Rigging:The adjustment and alteration of accessories (riggers, foot stretchers, oar,etc.) in and on the shell to maximize a particular rowers efficiency, based on their size and capabilities.

Rudder: device used to steer the shell.

Scull: this term is used interchangeably: to the oars used in sculling, the sculling shell itself; or the act of rowing in a sculling shell.

Shell: A racing boat; Term for rowing boats.

Sleeve: A plastic or leather wrap placed around the shaft at the location of the collar to protect the shaft from the tightening of the collar.

Slide: The track on which the seat moves.

Split: The time a crew takes to complete a 500 meter segment of the race.

Starboard: Right side of the boat facing the bow.

Stern: the rear end of the boat.

Stroke: Apart from the rowing action, this can also mean the person who sets the pace for the rest of the crew. The stroke sits nearest the stern.

Washing Out: Not fully recovering the blade during the whole stroke.



P.O. Box 274

Wildwood, PA  15091-0274

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