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Glossary of Rowing Terms

Bow:  The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line. The person in the seat closest to the bow, who crosses the finish line first.

Cox BoxA small electronic device that amplifies the coxswain's voice and gives a readout of important information such as stroke count.

Coxswain:  Person who steers the shell and is the on-the-water coach for the crew. 

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. 

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

Gunwale (pronounced "gunnel"):  Side of the boat. Top section on the sides of a shell that runs along the sides of the crew section where the rowers are located. The riggers are secured to the gunwale with bolts.

Keel:  The center line of the shell. The term refers to the extent to which the boat is balanced form side to side while rowing. A "good keel" is where the shell is rowed with little or no continual dipping to port or starboard.

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.

Oar:  Used to drive the boat forward: rowers do not use paddles.

Port:  Left side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of the movement.

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.

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

RudderSteering device at the stern. The rudder is connected to cables (tiller ropes) that the coxswain uses to steer the shell.

Run:  The run is the distance the shell moves during one stroke. You can figure it by looking for the distance between the puddles made by the same oar.

Sculls:  One of the two disciplines of rowing – the one where participants use two oars or sculls. Sculls row as a “Single”, “Pairs” (2 rowers with 4 oars total), and a “Quad” (4 rowers, 8 oars total).

Shell:  Can be used interchangeably with “boat”. Shells come in configurations and sizes for single rowers, pairs, fours, and eights. They’re made of lightweight carbon fiber. The smallest boat on the water is the single scull, which is only 27-30 feet long, a foot wide and approximately 30 pounds. Eights are the largest boats at 60 feet and a little over 200 pounds.

Slide:  The set of metal runners for the wheels of each seat in the boat.

Starboard:  Right side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of movement.

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

Stretcher or Footstretcher:  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 rower who sits closest to the stern. The stroke sets the rhythm for the boat; others behind him must follow his cadence/speed.

StrokeCoach:  A small electronic display that rowers attach in the boat to show the important race information like stroke rate and elapsed time.

Sweep:  One of the two disciplines of rowing – the one where rowers use only one oar. Pairs (for two people), fours (for four people) and the eight are sweep boats. Pairs and fours may or may not have a coxswain. Eights always have a coxswain.