GLOSSARY OF ROWING TERMS

Button: The adjustable flange on the sleeve of the oar that rests against the oarlock and keeps the oar from sliding through the oarlock. Also called the collar.

Catch: The beginning of the drive of the stroke when the oar blades drop into the water. At the position, the arms are straight, shoulders relaxed, back reaching forward slightly from the hips and the knees are raised near the chest.

Check: Stopping or slowing the forward glide of the shell by awkward, jerky motions, particularly during the recovery at the catch. There are two common causes of checking the boat: starting the drive before the oars are fully engaged in the water and accelerating down the slide on the recovery.

Crab: Catching the blade of the oar under the water, generally at the release. Often caused by applying power to a partly feathered oar or by feathering the oar under water. When you catch a crab, it feels just like a large crab has grabbed your blade. A good one can flip the boat.

Drive: The power part of the stroke. Generally defined as the time between the catch and the finish of the stroke.

Feather: Turning the oar blades so that they are parallel to the surface of the water during the recovery.

Finish: At the end of the drive when the rower’s legs are fully extended and the oar blades are being lifted clear of the water in preparation for the next stroke. At the finish, the legs are straight, back is leaning slightly past vertical with the shoulders in line with the bow end of the seat and the hands close to, but not touching the rib cage. The finish is an often-neglected part of the stroke, but it is where much of the stability comes from in rowing. A clean finish will set the boat up for a stable recovery.

Footstretchers or stretchers: Where the feet are placed in a shell. They are adjustable fore and aft in the boat. For taller people, the stretchers want to be closer to the stern of the boat.

Gate: The bar on the top of the oarlock which, when closed, keeps the oar in the oarlock. Also called the keeper.

Inboard: This is primarily used to refer to the length of the oar from the button to the end of the handle. More inboard will make the oar feel lighter on the drive. For 160 cm spread, oars are typically used with around 88 cm of inboard.

Oarlock: The fitting at the end of the rigger that holds the oar. It swivels on the pin. Overlap: The amount by which the oar handles cross over each other at mid stroke. Typical overlap is between 4″ and 6.”

Pin: The metal bolt on which the oarlock is mounted at the end of the rigger.

Pitch: Pitch refers to deviations from the vertical of the pin. It is discussed in degrees. When pitch is used alone, it refers to the extent to which the top of the pin leans towards the stern of the boat. Negative pitch is when the pin leans towards the bow of the boat. It is very difficult to row with negative pitch. Outboard pitch is when the top of the pin leans out slightly away from the boat. Pitch is a critical variable in setting up your boat. All Maas boats come rigged standard at five degrees of pitch. This is the setting that is appropriate for all oars and generally isn’t changed. However, should the need arise, the pitch can be changed by removing the oarlock and changing the inserts.

Rate or Rating: See Stroke Rate.

Recovery: The opposite of drive. It is the part of the stroke between the finish and the catch. At the beginning of the recovery, the oars are lifted clear of the water, the seat slides towards the stern of the boat (knees are bending). The sequence of body moves from the finish is: hands forward, pivoting from the pelvis the shoulders lean forward, followed by the legs compressing. The ratio between the amount of time spent on the recovery to the time spent on the drive is ideally 2:1.

Release: Same as the finish.

Riggers: The arms that extend from the side of a shell to give more spread between the oarlocks.

Run: During the recovery phase of the stroke, the boat is said to be running. It is the glide of the boat between applications of power.

Sculls: The oars used in a sculling boat. Sculling boats are those in which each rower pulls on two oars simultaneously. Sculls are distinct from sweep oars in which each rower has only a single oar.

Seat Horns: On double action seats (ones in which the wheels are fixed to axles which roll in a slot underneath the seat) the seat horns are the plastic doohickey (technical term) in which the axle rolls. Seat horns can get worn and cause the seat to roll poorly.

Seat Tracks: The tracks down which the seat rolls.

Set Up: The balance of the shell. A boat that is well set up feels level during the stroke. A boat that is poorly set up will be either tipping from side to side or perpentually off to one side.

Skying: Raising the oar blades high off the water during the recovery, especially just before the catch. This delays the catch (bad) and makes the shell very unstable at a point in the stroke when your center of gravity is highest.

Sleeve: The wide section of plastic on the oar shaft that fits precisely in the oarlock and guides the oar into the feather and square position.

Slide: The part of the recovery during which the seat is moving.

Spread: The distance between the pins on a scull. Boats are typically rigged with 160 cm of spread.

Square: The working position of the oar, when the blade is perpendicular to the water’s surface.

Stroke Rate: The frequency of strokes — always discussed in strokes per minute. When learning to scull you want to keep your rate around 20 strokes per minute or less. When comfortable in the shell, you can raise your rating. It takes a great deal of practice to row efficiently at higher ratings.

Through the Pin: The amount by which the seat of the rower passes through an imaginary line between the pins. While there is some debate about the proper amount of through the pin, most boats will have between 3″ and 6″ of through the pin. Less than this leads to an inefficient stroke.

Washing Out: Not keeping the blade buried during the drive.