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Rowing Terminology

Don’t know one of the acronyms used on this site? Don’t understand a particular bit of rowing terminology?

Never fear. The glossary here contains all of the rowing terms you need to know.

  • Boat Types
  • Age Groups
  • A to C
  • D-R
  • R-Z

Boat Types

1x | Single Scull – 1 sculler

2x | Double Scull – 2 scullers

4x | Quadruple “Quad” Scull – 4  scullers

4x+ | Coxed Quadruple “Quad” Scull scullers plus cox

2- | Pair (without a cox) 2 rowers

4- | Coxless Four (without a cox) 4 rowers

4+ | Coxed Four (with a cox) 4 rowers

8+ | Coxed Eight (with a cox) 8 rowers

Age Groups

U17 | Under 17 years of age

U19 | Under 19 years of age

U21 | Under 21 years of age

U23 | Under 23 years of age

Open (O) | Open to all competitors

Para | Para events Open to competitors living with a disability and classified according to the Rowing Australia Rules

Club | Club events are open to competitors who are members of the same club

A to C

Back it | To row in reverse to manoeuvre the boat to a desired position

Backsplash | Water splashed back towards the bow by the blade as it enters the water.

Blade/Spoon | The part at the end of the oar which goes into the water.

Bow | The front end of the boat

Bow Ball | A 5cm rubber ball fitted to the bow of the boat as a safety device.  A compulsory fitting.

Bow Number | A alpha-numeric number that each racing crew has attached to their bow to identify their race (the alpha) and their lane number (the numeric).

Bow seat | The rower closest to the front or bow of a crew boat when looking towards the bow.

Bowside | The right or starboard side of the boat when looking towards the bow.

Catch | The catch is the front end of the stroke where the oar is placed into the water

Catching a crab | A “crab” is when the oar get stuck in the water and impedes the progress of the boat.

Check it | Is when the crew, or some members of the crew put their oar into the water and hold it still to stop the boat from moving

Collar / Button | A wide plastic ring placed around the sleeve of an oar. The button stops the oar from slipping through the oarlock.

Cox box | A brand name, but also a common term used for a speaker system that the coxswain uses to be heard throughout the boat.  it can also show stroke rate, boat speed and time etc to the coxswain.

Coxswain or Cox | The person who is responsible for steering a coxed boat and making race calls around strategy.  Not all boats have a cox.  The cox may either sit in the stern of the boat or lie down in the bow of the boat.  The cox faces the direction the boat is going.


Distance | All races except Sprint events are over the Olympic distance of 2,000 metres.

Drive | The part of the stroke where the oar is in the water

Easy or Easy Oar | To stop rowing

Ergometer, Ergo or Erg | An indoor rowing machine

Events/Races | Each event will be conducted over a number of elimination rounds, e.g, heat, repechage, semi-final, finals,

Feather | When the oars are turned so the blade is parallel with the water

Finish | The end of the drive where the oars are released from the water.

Foot Stretcher | Apparatus for holding the feet firmly in the boat.

Lightweight | Lightweight rowers need to meet certain weight requirements to race.

Rating | The number of strokes taken per minute

Recovery | The part of the stroke where the oar is out of the water when the rower is moving forward to the catch. (the beginning of the stroke)

Repechâge | A second race was given to crews that do not progress in the draw past the heat, a second chance to progress.

Rigger | An attachment to the side of the boat which holds the oar.


Sculler | A rower who rows with two oars, one in each hand.

Seat number | A rower’s position in the boat counting up from the bow. In an eight, the person closest to the bow is “bow,” the next is 2, followed by 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and finally “stroke.”

Slide | Runners that guide the rower’s seat during the stroke.

Splits or Split time | The time it has taken a crew to row a specified distance usually 500metres

Square | When the blade is at right angles to the water

Stern | The rear end/ back of the boat

Stroke | | The entire movement of the oar going through the water, finish and recovery and going back in again

Stroke (Seat) | The rower closest to the stern of the boat.

Strokeside|  The left or port side of the boat when looking to the bow.

Sweep | Rowers who row with one oar / boats where each rower has one oar

Wash | The wake from another boat

Washing out | Where the blade comes out of the water during the drive