Every day terms used in active rowing


Info b rowing silhouettes


Rowing Terminology

This is a guide to the terms used in every day rowing, there are variations from country to country, but it makes your coaches job  far easier if you know or have a good idea about the terminology, before you start.


Rowing, each oarsman has one oar either bowside, right hand side or strokeside, left hand side facing towards the bow, (port left hand side or starboard right hand side facing towards the bow)

Sculling, each oarsman has two oars known as sculls and the oarsman is known as a sculler

Sculling boat, one man with two sculls (one pair of sculls)

Double sculler, two men with four sculls (two pairs of sculls)

Pair, two men with two oars

Coxwainless Four, four men with four oars, bowman normally steers

Coxed Four, four men with a coxswain and four oars, the coxswain can be either front or back (stern) steering

Quad sculler, four men with eight sculls (four pairs of sculls)

Eights, eight men with a coxswain at the back (stern) with eight oars.

Virus boats or similar, one man training boats for sculling

Bank Tub, fixed coaching equipment



General terminology


The boat:-

Blades, another name for oars or sculls, there are principally two types in use at the moment, Macon which are based on a conventional rowing shaped spoon (the section that goes through the water) and Carver with various derivations and square shaped, used in the Boat Race for example.

Bow, the front of the boat

Bowman or Bow, person rowing in the front position (1)

Bow Canvas, the decked area in front of the bowman, canvas is also used as a description of the distance of a winning crew where appropriate.

Buttons, stop the oars from sliding through the gate

Gates, these are attached to the riggers and hold the oars in place with locking nuts

Gunwales (pronounced Gunnels) sometimes referred to as Sax boards,  section above the hull that the riggers are fixed to

Hull, the main body of the boat

Keel fin, a small stabilising fin near the stern of the boat

Loom is the narrow part of the oar or scull before it joins the Spoon

Oars are individual Blades and also known as Sweeps, not to be confused with sculls

Rudder, at the stern of the boat usually at the bottom of the hull and attached to the fin, in coxwainless

boats it is steered by one rowing member with his right foot which moves on the stretcher.

Seat, is what you sit on in the boat, it moves on wheels

Slides are the grooves that the wheels on the seat run in.

Spoon is the section of the blade immersed in the water whilst propelling the boat forward.

Stern or aft, the rear section of the boat

Stern Canvas, the rear decking area

Stretcher, has the rowing shoes attached or clogs

Wash boards are attached to the sax boards or the area directly in front of the bowman to disperse heavy waves and rough water


Rowing Instructions Terminology


Ahead, look out collision approaching

Back down, paddling the boat in reverse

Back stops, the furthest point back on the slide when the oar comes out of the water (because you are facing towards the stern, the back stop is nearer the bow and conversely the front stop.

Bow, the Bowman number one in the boat

Catching a Crab, the blade enters the water under squared and goes down at a steep angle, normally catching the oarsman in the chest

Cox, coxswain steers the boat and issues instructions

Ease Off,  Weigh Up, stop

Feathered Blade, the oars are on the forward section of the stroke, the spoon is horizontal or skimming the water

Front stops, getting right forward, the position at the start of a stroke

Full pressure, rowing flat out

Hold it all, stopping the boat in an emergency

Half pressure, rowing at half strength

Low rate full pressure, is rowing very hard but moving very slowly forward on the slide

Navigation, always keep to the right on rivers or navigable waterways

Paddle On, gently row to position the boat

Paddling light, very light rowing at a low rate

Pitch, the angle that the gate is set to, to ensure that it enters the water correctly, they are normally slightly over squared.

Squared Blade, the blade is squared just before entry into the water, the opposite of Feathered

Stroke,  number eight in the boat and controls the boat

Three quarter slide, is a position a quarter of the way through a normal stroke as with half slide etc.

Two –Seven the numbers of each member of the crew, less if you have a four

Raising the rate, increasing the number of strokes per minute

Rate, the amount of strokes rowed in a minute

Stroke, one full rowing stroke, not to be confused with Number 8 in the boat or Number 4  in a four.


Cardinal rules,


Always make sure when you get in a boat as a novice, that you can turn the boat round, reverse and stop the boat at short notice


Always make sure your gate is done up before moving from the landing stage.


Do not let oars and sculls handles get behind you, the boat will turnover in small boats.


Never strap your feet in tight in the shoes or clogs, you must be able to get them out should the boat turn over, they should be comfortable, not overly loose or tight unless you are very experienced.