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Rowing Terms Every Beginner Should Know

Mar 30, 2022
Before you drive into any regatta and try out sculling and rowing, you need to at least have a basic know-how of the sport. The Ancient Egyptians were responsible for modern-day rowing. The boats, or the galleys, were used for the war on the Nile River and as transport for goods. The Ancient Roman Empire was next to use the boats in this way in the Mediterranean Sea. According to, the Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Norwegians started to use rowing for military purposes. The British preferred to use the Viking longboats during the 13th century. During this time, the River Thames was used as the trading route for huge ships and small merchants. British canal boats were created that accommodated passengers going across the Thames river. Around the 1700s, rowing would become a competitive sport among universities and other institutions. It became a sport in the Olympics in 1900. Women got to join in 1976. Rowing will get your body and mind in tiptop shape. Contrary to popular belief, you can practice rowing all year round. It could be played as part of a team or even on your own. There are many benefits that engaging in rowing could give you. We listed all of them below:
  • Rowing helps give you a clear mind. You have to be focused and alert while playing the sport.
  • Rowing is a good exercise for your cardiovascular health.
  • You will build values such as trust and teamwork in this sport. You work with others and even follow others’ instructions blindly, something you could do only with full trust.
  • Rowing will improve your stamina. You need to have agility and strength in rowing, especially if you are a competitive rower.
  • If your goal is to lose weight, rowing can help you shed those unwanted pounds.
  • Rowing will help you build muscles if that is your goal.
  • Rowing is good for your back.
  • Contrary to others’ opinions, rowing isn’t that heavy on the bank.
  • It gives you an opportunity to bond with your family, friends, teammates, and mentors.
  • You can get an academic scholarship if you sharpen your rowing skills.
  • And of course, you can win money by joining competitions!

Rowing Vocabulary

There are many terms and jargon in rowing that you have to know by heart before you can work on being good at it. Here’s a rundown of some of the phrases slash terms :
1. Catching a Crab
There is always something in the water that might catch on the oar. It could be garbage on the water, seaweed, fish, and other things. The rower may be caught off guard especially if it jerks on the blade’s spoon and he or she may lose his or her rhythm.
2. Spoon
We refer to the paddle’s blade or oar as the spoon. It is located at the end of the loom. It is shaped accordingly to achieve maximum power and thrusting benefit. Its flat surface is designed like so to help the rower with feathering and catching.
3. Loom
The oar’s handle, everything in it except the spoon, is called the loom. The rower uses two oars in sculling while he or she uses one oar in rowing.
4. Feather
The way you hold the spoon in relation to the surface of the water is called feather. The part rowers will use is parallel and flat so that if the blade goes through recovery, the spoon will cut through with very little wind resistance. If in case the blade accidentally skims the surface, it can travel through the water easily.
5. Recovery
When your blade is not on the water and is currently feathering from bow to stern, this is called the recovery phase. You head your oar towards the back so that you could return to a front stop position.
6. Catch
There will be a moment when the spoon of your oar will touch the water and enter the surface. This moment is called a catch. If you are rowing as part of a team, all members must catch up at the same time to make sure you are engaged in maximum power and efficiency.
7. Checking
This term is used when you need to stop the rowboat or turn quickly with the use of your oar. You need to gain maximum control of the water and you do so by plunging the oar into the water making sure that the blade and spoon are squared. You’ll be using one oar in sculling while you use the oar specific to one side of the boat in rowing.
8. Backstop
When you’re about to start, you will engage in a backstop. Extend your legs, your arms should be towards your chest while the spoon of the oar is flat on the water’s surface, according to The opposite of a backstop is a front stop, which is also a starting position. Your hands and eyes must be coordinated and teamwork must be at its best. You are rowing for the team and not for yourself.
9. Bow Pair and Stroke Pair
This is specific to team rowing and not applicable to sculling. The front of the boat is the direction where you are heading, you will have a person assigned there who is responsible to row on the bow side, which falls on the right-hand side. The second person from the row of the boat will be rowing on the stroke side—the first and the second rowers make up a bow pair. The third person will be rowing on the bow side and the next rower on the stroke—they are referred to as the stroke pair. The cox follows both pairs.
10. Cox/Coxswain
The coach of the team is called the cox or coxswain. He or she faces the rowers and the direction to where they are heading. As the coach of the team, he or she will be screaming instructions to steer the team in the right direction, be able to avoid rough waters, do the right stroke and be able to catch at the same time. This leader is not present for sculling events.
11. Gate
If you are wondering what holds the oar in its place, then you should know that’s called the gate. It is the part of your boat that is hanging off the rigger. This also orientates the oar in order to customize and meet the needs of the stroke.
12. Riggers
All rowing boats, may they be used for sculling or rowing, have riggers. These riggers help passengers to handle the boat, embark and disembark on it, and maintain the grip loose. Confused? These are the parts protruding from both sides of the boat that has a gate on the end. Even though it’s made of lightweight metal, riggers are needed to hold the oar in place.
13. Stretcher
The rower’s feet will go to the foot stretcher of the boat. Rowers need a stable platform to start and push the boat which is why the stretcher is a very important part to start. Loosen the stretcher nut to suit the rower’s height.

Storage for Your Rowing Gear

Tools used in rowing are huge so if you were to use your garage for storage, you need to allocate space for it. You can also install height adjustable overhead storage racks for the boats and use hooks for the oars.