Welcome to the Rockford Rowing Website.


Rowing Glossary


  • The person at the starting dock who aligns the boats evenly for a fair start.


  • What happens when thousands of people try to park in one small lot at a regatta.

Blade (hatchet or spoon)

  • The face of the oar that pushes against the water.

Body angle

  • Leaning to the left or to the right in the boat. Ideally, a rower should sit upright for the entire stroke except a slight lean into the rigger at the catch. Improper body angle can result in a bad boat set.


  • End of the boat closest to the direction of travel. Also can be used to refer to one-seat, or in conjunction with either four or pair. Bow-four refers to seats four thru one. Bow-pair refers to seats two and one.


  • The rower in the bow of the boat. When the boat is coxless (i.e. No coxswain), the bowman issues the commands and steers the boat.


  • The part of the stroke where the oar enters the water.


  • Bad technique that slows the boat down. Essentially, the momentum of the rowers sends the boat in the opposite direction.


  • A straight race course for rowers that has 4-6 lanes. In high school, the length is 1500 meters, while in college/olympic events, the length is 2000 meters.

Cox box

  • A small electronic device which aids the coxswain by amplifying his voice, and giving him a readout of stroke rate and time.


  • When the oar gets caught under water at the stroke finish. A bad one can knock a rower over.


  • Part of the stroke where rower pulls the blade through the water to propel the boat.

Erg (ergo / ergometer)

  • Rowing machine that closely simulates rowing in a boat.


  • Rotating the oar in the oarlock so that the blade is parallel to the water.


  • Part of the stroke after the drive where the blades come out of the water.

Foot stretcher

  • Part of the boat where the shoes are attached and where the rower pushes his legs against on the drive.

Gunwale (pronounced ‘gunnel’)

  • The top edge of the side of the boat.


  • Heaviest of the three major weight categories in competitive rowing.

“Hold water!”

  • Coxswain call that makes all the rowers drag their oar blades through the water perpendicularly, effectively stopping the boat.


  • Steadiness of the boat. If the boat alternates leaning side to side, it is a sign of bad technique.


  • Term for how much you lean back at the finish. Too much is bad, too little is, well, bad also.


  • Term for the coaches boats.

“Let it run!”

  • Coxswain call for all rowers to stop rowing and to pause at the finish, letting the boat glide through the water and coast to a stop. Used as a drill to build balance.

Leg drive

  • Term used for driving the legs against the foot stretchers on the drive.


  • Lightest of the three major weight classes in competitive rowing.


  • Those rowers that are too heavy for lightweight and too light for a heavyweight.

Missing water

  • Bad technique where you aren’t moving the blade through the water as much as you could. Usually caused by not getting the blade in the water soon enough at the catch. Therefore, missed water equals less movement of the boat.


  • Square latch to hold the oar & provide a fulcrum for the stroke against the rigger.

Oarsman, oarswoman or oarsperson

  • Another term for a rower.


  • An official regatta race administrator that follows behind the current race in a motorboat. The official makes sure all boats stay in their designated lanes.


  • Side of the boat to the coxswain’s left and to the rowers’ right.

‘Power 10’

  • Coxswain call to take a certain number of power strokes. A power stroke is a stroke that musters all the strength you can give.


  • A measure of your power (and of run). If your blade leaves behind little dinky ripples, then you are not pulling hard enough. If you leave tidal waves after you pull your blade out of the water, then you’re pulling just right.


  • Strength/endurance building drill where the coxswain calls an increasing series of power strokes, then a decreasing series of power strokes.

Race Pace

  • A stroke rating that you can hold for the entire race.


  • Part of the stroke where a rower comes back up the slide towards the catch.


  • An organized crew race.


  • Another term for finish.


  • A race after the heats for those who didn’t qualify. Basically, a second chance to make it to finals.


  • An apparatus on the side of the boat to provide a fulcrum for the oar.


  • The settings for the riggers to create the perfect stroke. (pitch, inboard, outboard)


  • A little fin on the bottom of the boat that the cox can control to steer the boat.


  • The distance the boat moves after a stroke. Long run is very good. Run can be visually measured by the distance between the last puddle made by two-seat and where eight-seat’s blade enters the water.

Rushing the Slide

  • Bad technique that causes check. Comes from moving towards the catch from the recovery too fast.


  • Sculling is rowing with two oars (an oar on each side of the boat).


  • A rower who sculls.


  • Another term for a boat. Specifically, a boat used in racing.

Skeg (or fin)

  • A small fin located along the stern section of the hull. This helps stabilize the shell in holding a true course. All racing shells have a skeg. Should not be confused with the rudder.


  • Bad technique where the blade is too high off the surface of the water at the catch.


  • The tracks in which the rolling seat moves.

Slings (or boat slings)

  • Collapsible/portable frames with straps upon which a shell can be placed temporarily.

Split time

  • Projected amount of time it would take to row 500 meters at this specific power at this specific pace. Calculated by erg monitors and cox boxes.


  • The last 500 meters of the race. This is the point where everyone is exhausted, and whoever has the guts to go even faster wins.


  • Side of the boat to the coxswain’s right and to the rowers’ left.

Start (and starting call)

  • When all the boats are aligned, the starter says ‘we have alignment.’ the starting call (most of the time) is ‘are you ready? Row!’ or “attention’ (pause) ‘go!’ sometimes there are subtle variations on that.

Start sequence

  • A sequence of very quick (sometimes short) strokes at the very beginning of the race to shoot out into the lead.

Starting dock

  • Boat dock or stake boat at the starting line where all boats are aligned.


  • End of a boat farthest from the direction of travel. Can be used in conjunction with either four or pair. Stern-four refers to seats eight thru five. Stern-pair refers to seats eight and seven.


  • One full motion to move a boat. Consists of the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. Can also be used to refer to the person in the eight-seat.

Stroke rate

  • How fast a stroke is being taken. In terms of strokes per minute.


  • Rowing with one oar on one side of the boat.


  • Waves that motorboats leave behind. ‘Getting waked’ in a race means you’re behind another shell or an official boat. Getting waked by an official is very bad – either you’ve got a bad official or you’re really far behind in a race.

Washing out

  • Similar to missing water except it means taking the blade out of the water too soon at the finish.


  • Coxswain call to have all rowers stop rowing. Sounds like ‘way-nuff.’