Rowing and Rowboat terminology
Some Rowing related Vocabulary
Here are some of the terms you might come across. I don't try to be all inclusive but I hope I have included enough words to help in understanding further research and reading.
On the left I have included links to some of my other vocabulary pages, including boat hull terms.
- Cox, Coxwain
- In a rowing shell the cox sits in the back of the boat facing the front and the rowers and helps sets the pace. He also encourages and urges the team to great effort.
- This is an electronic instruments used by Coxwains. It has Stroke rate monitor and elapsed time and also has a voice amplifier linked to a loudspeaker. It is used to monitor the performance of the crew and direct and manage the rowers. There are a number of instructions called Rowing Commands used.
- Fine Boat
- fine refers to the shape of the boat. Finer boats slice through the water. In the UK it is a synonim for rowing shell or rowing scull.
- Forward Facing rowing systems
- It is often desirable to see where you are rowing and several methods have been developed. Fishermen sometimes use extra long oarlocks to raise the oars so that they can be used standing up and often facing forward. In this case the rower pushes against the oars. Forward rowing is useful when there are obstacles, or cramped area, or when the boat needs to be directed accurately. This is sometimes called back-watering or push-rowing
Several old and modern systems have been developed to allow the rower to sit facing the front and pull on the oars to propell the boat. The articulated oars then change the motion of the oar.
- This is the height of the sides that is outside the water. Boats with hight freeboard are better and safer in bigger waves but are more affected by the wind. (windage)
- Gunwales, gunnels
- are the horizontal boards attached to the top of the boat sides. The gunwales help stiffen and protect the boat and provide a spot to attach the oarlocks.
- Oarlocks, Rowlocks, Rollocks
- support the oar and keep it in position as the oar pivots against the boat. Oarlocks can be round or horn shaped with a pin or rod that fits through an oarlock socket attached to the boat. The oarlock acts as a fulcrum to the oar which acts as a lever.
- Outriggers, Riggers
- In rowing sculls extensions are used to widen the space between the oarlocks. These are riggers or outriggers. The sculls are so narrow that it is not possible to mount the oarlocks directly on the hull and still have a suitable pivot point for the oars.
- Rear Facing Rowing Systems
- The traditional way of rowing is rear facing. The rower faces the back of the boat and pulls on the oars. The boat moves in the direction opposite to the direction the rower is facing. There are also forward facing rowing systems.
- Rowing Commands
- Many commands have been developed to assist the Coxwain in instructing a rowing team. Here is an article which lists Rowing Commands
- A rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand. Opposed to Sweep style where each rower uses one oar.
- Shell or fine boats
- racing shells are very long narrow rowing boat designed for racing or exercise. They have long oars, outriggers to hold the oarlocks at the proper distance from the hull, and sliding seats. The shell's long length and semicircular shaped bottom reduce drag. This makes the racing shell fast and very unstable.
- Single-oar sculling
- is an ancient way of propelling a boat by moving a single stern mounted oar back and forth. The angle is changed at each side to side stroke. Sculling is used in many parts of the world. An example is the Chinese sampan. The sculling oar is then called a yuloh. Skulling is also used as a synonym to rowing in racing sculls. Sculls can refer to long narrow racing rowboats, or to the oars used in the racing sculls.
- Or Fin, a small keel usually at the stern part of the boat which helps stabilize the boat and keeps it tracking straight. Large skegs slows the turning of a rowboat.
- In a racing shell, a rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand. Opposed to Sweep style where each rower uses one oar.
In traditional non racing rowing a form of rowing using only one large oar mounted at the back of the craft and swung from side to side.
- Sculling Oar
- Some row boats are propelled using only one long often flexible oar which gets pushed sideways to and fro while the angle of attack is changed. Sculling has the advantage of requiring less width to maneuver in narrow areas. The rower usually stands and can look forward or backwards.
- Sliding rigger
- An alternative to the sliding seat, allows for the oarlocks (and outrigger) to move forwards and backwards. It has the same advantages of sliding seats but does not move the center of gravity of the rower. Some claim better performance although it is banned for rowing competition. In a shorter rowboat where a sliding seat makes the boat bob up and down (dolphin) sliding riggers are to be preferred to a sliding seat.
- Sliding Seat
- Many rowboats and rowing shells have sliding seats that increase the power to the oars because they permit the rower to add the push of the legs to the stroke.
- Thole Pins
- are wood rods or pins which act as oarlocks. They are sometimes removable, They can be seen in the faerings above.
- supports that run from side to side in a boat and add rigidity and help maintain shape.
- How a boat sits in the water. If the trim is good the boat will move efficiently through the water. IF the trim is bad then speed and handling will be reduced.
- Waterline Beam
- The width of a boat at the waterline
- Waterline Length
- The length of a boat at water level. LWL is often much less than overall length. The speed of a boat depends a great deal on the waterline length. Theoretical Hull speed is calculated from the Waterline length.
- Windage is the effect of wind acting on the sides and mast of a boat. Boats that have high sides are subject to more windage while boats with less freeboard are not as sensitive to being blown around.
email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine