What the heck are they talking about?  

When you learn to row, one of the first items you notice is the language of rowing.  There are a lot of words and phrases you likely have never heard of before and we get it.  Here's a list of some of the commonly used rowing terms: 

The Boat...

Bow - The front of the boat

Bow Ball - The ball on the front of the boat that is required to be there by US Rowing safety rules.  Why?  There have been incidents where hulls collide and all clubs have safety procedures in place to prevent such collisions.  However, although rare, they do happen.  The bow ball is there to minimize the damage to other hulls or rowers.   

Bow Number Clip - This is a clip on the bow of the boat that holds a number for races.  It also hold a light for when we row early in the morning or later at night.

Cox or Coxswain - This is the "coach in the boat".  They steer the hull and give commands as needed.  A good cox is hard to find and we're always willing to train new ones!

CoxBox - A coxbox is a combination amplification device and tool.  The coxswain wears a headset that plugs into the coxbox and there is wiring in the boat that also plugs into the coxbox.  The coxswain's voice is amplified so the rowers can hear them.  Also, the coxbox has a timer and tells the rowers how many strokes per minute they're rowing.  We'll get into that later.

Deck - There's a Bow Deck and a Stern Deck.  These are the decking on the front and back of the boat.  You never, ever sit on the bow or stern deck!

Footstretcher - Each rower has a footstretcher to put their feet in.  There's a pair of shoes that's secured to the hull that you use to row.  The footstretcher may be adjusted depending on the height of the rowers.

Gunwales - (pronounced "gunnels" - this is the top edge of the actual rowing hull.

Hull - That's the boat.  It can also mean the actual "hull" of the boat depending on the conversation.  But in general, when we say "hull" we're referring to the entire physical boat.

Port Side - This is the left side of the boat.  Because we're moving backwards as we row, this is actually on the right side of the rower.

Rigger - We're going to break this down to explain the parts.  The Rigger is either a side mount or wing design.  (Side mount is mounted on the side of the hull and wing is mounted on the gunwales.  The rigger is what keeps the oar in place when you row.  Let's break that down...

  • Side Mount Terms - these are terms for a side mount rigger.
    • Front Stay - This is the metal bar that is front of the rower and goes from the hull to the oar lock.
    • Mid Stay - These are the metal bars that go from the side of the hull to the oar lock.
    • Back Stay - This is the metal bar that goes from the hull to the oar lock and is behind the rower.
  • Wing Terms - There is not a mid stay on a wing rigger. 
    • Wing - this refers to the rigger that is mounted across the gunwale in front of the rower and goes to the oar lock.
    • Back Stay - This is the metal bar that goes from the hull to the oar lock and is behind the rower.
  • Oar Lock - This is the device that holds the oar in place while rowing. 
    • Gate - This is a bar that goes across the top of the oar lock.  It secures the oar in place.
    • Spacers - There are two types.  Closed and adjustable.  A closes spacer is one that cannot be moved without unscrewing the rigger bolt.  An adjustable spacer "snaps" on and off.  These are used to adjust the height of the oar lock to the needs of the rower.
    • Rigger Bolt - This is the bolt on the top of the oar lock.  it secures the oarlock and back stay to the oar lock.
    • Pin - This is a metal shaft that the oar lock slides onto and allows the oarlock to move.  The rigger bolt screws into the pin.  There is a nut on the bottom that secures the rigger bolt to the rigger.

Rudder - This is located in the stern and it's how the coxswain steers the hull.

Seat - Where you sit in the boat

  • Wheels - Rowing seats move!  The wheels allow the seat to move back and forth as you take a stroke.
  • Tracks - What the wheels move in.  They restrict the movement of the seat to only being able to move back and forth.
  • Front Stop - The front end of the track.
  • Back Stop - The back end of the track.

Skeg - (Also called the Fin)  This is on the bottom of the hull in the stern.  This stabilizes the hull in the water.

Starboard - The right side of the hull.  Because we move backwards when we row, the Starboard side will be on the rower's left side. 

Stern - The back of the boat

Stern Cap - This is an access point on the stern deck of the boat that allows access to the rudder and skeg.