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What do I wear?

Layers are the key! Do not wear anything too baggy - yoga pants or shorts are great. T-shirts should not be too long. Running shoes are a MUST! Hats and sunglasses (and water bottle) are always a good idea.


BOW PERSON - The person seated closest to the bow of the boat. This person crosses the finish line first.

BOW-COXED BOAT - A boat in which the coxswain lies down in the front or bow of the shell. The coxswain’s head is just visible.

COXED FOUR - A shell that has four people rowing and a coxswain who steers and calls commands. Each person rowing has one oar. This is a sweep event. (4+ is the way it will be written on the race sheets.)

COXED PAIR - A shell rowed by two people, each using one sweep oar. A coxswain steers the boat.  (2+ is how it will be written on the race sheets.)

COXSWAIN - Member of the crew who sits stationary at the stern of the boat facing forward. The coxswain may lie in the front of the boat. The coxswain’s main job is to steer the shell. Selected for their small size and savvy, he or she also calls the race strategy, helps the coach and motivates the crew. Men must weigh 50 kg (110 lbs.) or more, and women 45 kg (99 lbs.) or more. 

DOUBLE - A sculling event. A shell which has two rowers each using two oars, one in each hand (four oars in total). (2x)

EIGHT - Term used to indicate an eight-oared shell; eight rowers, plus a coxswain. (8+) 

FOUR - A shell with four rowers, each with one oar. The stroke or the bow steers the boat by a rudder, which is connect by a cable to their shoe. The rower then turns their foot to turn the rudder and steer the boat. (4+ or 4-)

PAIR - A shell rowed by two athletes, each using a single sweep oar (two blades total). (2-)

QUAD - A shell with four rowers (correctly called scullers), each with two oars (eight oars total). (4x or 4x+)

SCULLERS - Rowers that row in a single, double (shown left), or quad. A sculler uses two oars, one in each hand.

STROKE - The oarsperson that sits closest to the stern. In the eight he or she sits facing the coxswain. The stroke sets the rhythm for the rest of the crew to follow.

SWEEP - Refers to events in which the rowers use one oar each (pair, four, and eight). A sweep oar is longer than a sculling oar.

Rowers say what?

BLADE - The end of the oar that is painted in a club’s or country’s colours. This part of the oar should be just covered with the water when the oarsperson is pulling the oar through the water. Good crews will keep the blade “buried” in the water from the catch to the finish of the stroke.
BLADE WORK - Action of the blade during the stroke, encompassing such techniques as "catch" and "feathering." Used to describe how the oarsperson handles his or her oar.
BODY ANGLE - Amount, at catch, of forward lean of rower’s body from hips.
BOW - The front of the boat. The first part of the boat to go through the finish line.
BOWBALL - A small white ball at the front of the boat. 
BREAKAGE - Damage to equipment; breakage during the first 100 meters of the race is grounds for the referee stopping the race and restarting.
CATCH - The point in the stroke cycle at which the blade enters the water.
CATCH A CRAB - When the blade gets caught in the water as a result of going too deep or not getting the blade out quickly enough at the release.
COXBOX - A speaker system that runs through the boat and has a microphone so the coxswain does not have to yell.
CRAB - An action that slows the boat down. The oar is turned in the water incorrectly or goes too deep in the water, making it difficult or impossible to remove the oar from the water. Some crabs can result in the oarsperson being thrown out of the boat.
ERGOMETER - Rowers call it an "erg." It’s a rowing machine that approximates the actual rowing motion. The rower’s choice is usually Concept II, which utilizes a flywheel and a digital readout so the rower can measure strokes per minute, power output and distance covered. An ergometer test is usually used as part of selection criteria for national teams. Most tests are either six minutes, 2000 metres or 6000 metres in length.
FEATHERING - Action of turning the blade, once out of the water, so it is parallel to the water. The blade is feathered as the oarsperson comes up the slide to the catch. Used to cut down wind resistance during recovery and to aid in passing over rough water.
FIN - A short piece of metal toward the stern of the boat on the bottom of the hull. This helps to keep the boat moving in a straight line. 
FINISH - As part of the stroke cycle, it’s the last part of the drive, usually using the arms to pull the oar to the body and then to take the oar out of the water. As part of the race, it’s the end of the race or final sprint to the finish line.
FOOTSTOP/FOOTBOARDS - The shoe assembly into which each rower laces his or her feet in a racing shell.
GATE - The bar across the oarlock that keeps the oar in place.
GUNWALES - Located above the boat's hull, rowers sit between the gunwales and the riggers are attached here. One of the main purposes of the gunwale is to keep water out of the shell in rough conditions. 
HEADS UP! - Yelled by rowers when they are carrying a shell to warn you they are trying to get someplace and you are in the way. Best response when you hear "heads up" near you is to duck!
HEAVYWEIGHT - An oarsperson that is competing in an open-weight class with no weight maximums. Usually women are over 130 lbs. and men over 160 lbs. Most international heavyweight women are over 5'8" and 150 lbs. and heavyweight men over 6'2" and 185 lbs.
HUDSON - A rowing shell produced by Hudson Racing Shells in London, Ont.
JUNIOR - An oarsperson who has not yet turned 19 in the calendar year. FISA holds a junior world championships each year.
KASCHPER - A rowing shell produced by Kaschper Racing Shells Ltd. of Lucan, Ont.
KEEL - Centre line of the rowing shell, running bow to stern along the bottom of the boat.
LAYBACK - Amount of backward lean of an oarsperson’s body at the finish of the drive (when the legs are down).
LEG DRIVE - Power applied to the stroke, at the catch, by the force of driving the legs down. Along with the hips, the legs are the main force behind pushing the oar through the water. The arms finish the stroke with a pull to the body as the legs are finishing.
LENGTH IN THE WATER - Term used to describe the length of arc the oar travels through the water. Taller rowers usually have a longer arc through the water. Speed equals force x distance, therefore, taller rowers usually can make a boat go faster than a shorter rower of equal ability.
LET IT RUN - A command used to stop rowing.
LIGHTWEIGHT - A competitive category limiting the rowers by size. Lightweight men must weigh no more than 72.5 kg (159.5 lbs.) and the crew, if there is more than one rower, must weigh an average of no more than 70 kg per rower. The women must weigh no more than 59 kg (129.8 lbs.) and the crew must average no more than 57 kg per rower.
OARLOCK - U-shaped swivel holding the oar on the rigger, fulcrum of lever created by oar. It is mounted on the rigger "sill" and rotates on an upright pin with a "gate" at top to secure the oar.
OUTBOARD - The part of the oar that extends from the oarlock to the water. A distance from the button of the oar to the blade. The longer the outboard, the harder it is to push the blade through the water due to a longer arc.
PORT - The left side of the shell, facing forward. For rowers, port is their right as they are facing backwards. Port oars are indicated by red markings.
POWER "10" or "20" - Maximum effort by an oarsperson for designated number of strokes. Used in racing strategy.
PUDDLES - Whirlpools left in the water by action of oar. Created by pulling the oar through the water.
RACING START - First strokes of a race. Usually a series of three to five shorter and quicker strokes than normal to get the shell in motion.
RATE - Number of strokes per minute being rowed by the crew. This usually varies from 42 to 48 on the start, 34 to 40 during the body and 40 to 44 at the finish. Smaller shells (fewer rowers) do not rate as high as the eight and the quad, the two highest rating shells.
RECOVERY - Part of the stroke cycle in which the oar is feathered and returned to position for the catch and the drive. The duration of cycle from release to catch when the rower is moving to the stern of the shell on his or her moving seat (slide).
RELEASE - Part of the stroke cycle in which the blade is removed from the water.
REPECHAGE - The second chance race given to those crews which fail to qualify for the final from an opening heat. All the heat losers are drawn again and the repechages are raced. "Rep" qualifiers move onto semifinals or finals depending on the number of entries. Used in international racing.
RIGGER - The outrigger that is fixed to the shell. The oarlock is on the rigger and the oar is placed into the oarlock.
RIGGING - Adjusting and altering moving parts of the shell such as riggers, footstretchers, tracks, sliding seats, etc. Adjusting the rigging can "lighten" or "load up" the rowers making them work harder or not as hard. A heavy rig means it is hard to pull the oar through the water generally resulting in a lower stroke rate. Coaches consider rigging an "art" and spend hours finding the best rig for their crew to race with.
RUDDER - Steering device at the stern of the shell or just behind the coxswain. The rudder is on the bottom of the boat. The coxswain steers the boat by ropes attached to the rudder post. Coxless boats steer by moving their right shoe to which are attached the rudder cables that, in turn, run to the rudder post.
RUN - The run is the distance the shell moves during one stroke. This can be calculated by the distance between the puddles made by the same oar.
SCULLERS - Rowers that row in a single, double (shown left), or quad. A sculler uses two oars, one in each hand.
SENIOR B - Also called Under 23.
SHAFT -The long "stick" part of the oar. 
SHELL - The correct term for rowing boats.
SKYING - Term used to describe a blade that is too high off the surface of the water during the recovery.
SLIDE - A term used to describe the seat on which rowers sit. The seat has wheels underneath it and the wheels sit in tracks. This way the rowers can “slide” forward to the catch.
SLIDE CONTROL - The oarsperson’s command of speed at which he or she moves forward during the stroke slide. Difficult to learn good control!
STARBOARD - Right side of the shell facing forward. Starboard is on the rower’s left. Oars are indicated by green markings.
START - Official start is "SET - GO."
STARTER - Official that starts the race by giving the start commands and by using a flag as he or she says the commands.
STARTING GATE - A structure at the starting line of the race. The shell is "backed" into the starting gate. Once in the gates, the stern of the shell is held by a person who is lying on the starting gate, which ensures an even start. When the crew starts to race, the shell is pulled out of the "boat holders" hands.
STERN - Rear of the shell.
STRETCHERS - Cross bracing in the shell to which the shoes are attached; usually called footstretchers. Also refers to the wood or metal devices used on which the shells are placed when they are out of the water. These are also called slings.
WASHING OUT - When the blade of the oar comes out of the water during the drive. The blade should remain covered with water from the catch to the release of the stroke cycle.
WEIGHTS - A bag of sand required to be carried by those coxswains who weigh below their minimum.

So you've got blisters?


Blisters can occur when you damage your skin while rowing. Repeated friction across the palms from the oars commonly causes blisters to form along the areas of contact. If the blister doesn't affect your rowing, leave it alone. Leaving the blister intact prevents infections from entering the skin, and the clear liquid inside the blister pads the area. Plan a week to 10 days without blister treatment before you body reabsorbs the fluid inside the blister. You may want to apply moleskin or use gauze padding to cover the blisters with a cushion. If you experience other symptoms, such as fever, or if you feel unwell, call your doctor. Blisters may indicate a more severe illness, such as herpes.



When you row, the oar may exert too much pressure on your blister. Drain any painful blisters or blisters that restrict your rowing. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before puncturing your blister. Disinfect a small needle by heating it until it turns red and allowing it to cool or by soaking it in rubbing alcohol for three minutes. Carefully push the needle into the blister as close to your skin as possible, but don't rip your skin. You may need to soak rough areas first to allow the needle to penetrate the blister without difficulty. Most blisters release a clear liquid, but blood blisters release blood. Gently apply pressure to the top of the blister until the bubble is empty. Never drain burn blisters.


Once you drain a blister, protect the exposed skin from germs. If you ripped the skin, trim the excess skin from the blister with a pair of sterilized scissors or nail clippers. Apply an antibiotic cream like Neosporin or Bacitracin to the area, and then cover the blister. Unless the bandage comes loose or gets wet, you can change the bandage daily. You may find blisters heal more quickly if you expose them to air when you aren't rowing or putting pressure on the area. Some people advocate making a tent in the bandage to allow air to reach the area. Keep an eye on the blister and notify your doctor if you notice any red streaks or pus.

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