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Rowing 101

“When you were done and walked away from the boat, you had to feel that you had left a piece of yourself behind in it forever, a bit of your heart... And a lot of life is like that too, the parts that really matter anyway.”

-Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat

Rowing Vocabulary

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.

Button: A wide collar on the oar that keeps it from slipping through the oarlock.

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

Cox Box: a device used by the cox, consisting of a microphone and speakers, that amplifies the cox’s voice throughout the boat during the race.

Deck: The part of the shell at the bow and stern that is covered with fiberglass cloth or a thin plastic.

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.

Fin: the fin under the stern of the boat which helps to keep the boat on course.

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

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.

Regatta: An organized crew competition.

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

Rudder: a small, movable part, usually metal, that sits under the stern of the boat; allows the coxswain to steer the boat.

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 scullers use two oars or sculls.

Shell: Can be used interchangeably with boat.

Slide: The set of 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.

Straight: Refers to a shell without a coxswain i.e. a straight four or straight pair.

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 rower who sits closest to the stern. The stroke sets the rhythm for the boat; others behind him must follow his cadence.

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.

Swing: The hard-to-define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion occurs in the shell, enhancing the performance and speed.

USRowing: A nonprofit membership organization recognized by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee as the national governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing selects, trains and manages the teams that represent the U.S. in international competition including the world championships, Pan American Games and Olympics. More than 75,000 individuals and 1,300 organizations strong, USRowing serves and promotes the sport on all levels of competition. USRowing membership reflects the spectrum of American rowers- juniors, collegians, masters and those who row for recreation, competition or fitness.

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