Rowing Basics

Introduction

This page will give you a better understanding of the basics of rowing, including information on the types of boat that the club uses, the different parts of the boat, and the types of competition that the rowing club takes part in. Select one of the following sections to read about this aspect of Rowing, or alternatively take some time in reading through the whole page.

The Fine Boat | Basics of Rowing | The Rowing Stroke

The Fine Boat

Exeter Rowing Club use a type of boat called the fine boat. FineBoat The fine boat, also known as the Olympic class boat, is the familiar racing shell that you will see rowed or sculled at inland competitions. In ‘sweep’ boats each rower has one oar (or blade). In ‘sculling’ boats (such as in the image above) the oarsmen use two blades. The fine boats generally have one, two, four or eight seats. The eights will always have a coxswain (cox) to steer and direct the crew whereas a four may be coxed or coxless depending on the type of boat used. Types of ‘sweep’ boats 2- (coxless pair) 2+ (coxed pair.  This type of boat is rarely used nowadays) 4- (coxless four) 4+ (coxed four) 8+ (coxed eight) Types of ‘sculling’ boats 1x (single) 2x (double) 4x (quad) 4x+ (coxed quad – this type of boat is generally only used by juniors) 8x+ (octuple – this type of boat is rarely used and will be for junior use only) Back to Top.

Basics of Rowing

Basics

BladesBlades

Rowers use blades (or oars) to propel the boat forward. There are different shapes of blade that have different names.

RiggersRiggers

The riggers of a boat hold a pivot for the blade out from the side of the boat. The blade attaches to the pivot via a gate that sits at the end of the rigger.

SeatSeat

Rowers sit on a seat, in the type of boat pictured the seat will move backwards and forwards on wheels to allow the rower greater movement. The runners on which the wheels sit are called the slide.

ShoesShoes

Rowers attach their feet to their boat via shoes fixed to a metal plate in the boat. This provides them with a stable base to push off.

CoxCox

Some boats have a cox who may sit in the front or back of the boat. In a coxed boat, the cox steers the boat and instructs the crew whilst also acting as a lookout.

BowBow

The bow is the front end of the boat and it is also the name given to the rower who sits in the bow. Bow is also referred to as ‘number one’ and this is the rower who will cross the finishing line first.

StrokeStroke

The person at the back or the stern of the boat is called ‘stroke’ – in an eight he or she is ‘number eight’. All the other rowers in the boat aim to follow the rhythm and rate set by the stroke.

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The Rowing Stroke

The section below will show a step by step walk through of the a “perfect” rowing stroke.

When you learn to row, you begin with simple exercises. The following sequence of photos shows you what you will be working towards.

The Drive Phase
Drive Phase Drive Phase 2 small Drive Phase 3 small Drive Phase 4 small
The Recovery Phase
Recovery Recovery 2 Recovery 3 Recovery 4

Point1

Point 1

This is the start of the drive phase of the stroke, when the blades are placed in the water (called ‘the catch’) and the boat is driven forwards using the large muscle groups in the legs and body.

  • The shins are vertical, the back straight and leaning forward and the body closed up on the thighs.
  • All that is needed is for the hands to lift a little more in the direction of the arrow, and the blades will be fully ‘locked’ in the water

Common Errors at Point 1

The seat begins to move backwards faster than shoulders. This fault is known as ‘bum shoving’ and it causes the powerful leg drive to be weakened considerably.

Point2

Point 2

It is a mistake to think that rowing is pulling with the arms, but many beginners do this.

  • The legs should be doing most of the work here, with the arms relaxed and the back still straight and leaning forward.
  • The hands follow the path of the arrow parallel to the boat. The feeling should be that of hanging off the blade handles.

Common Errors at Point 2

Arms pulling over the knees into an arc causing the blades to plunge too deep.

Point3

Point 3

Nearing the end of the drive phase the body swings back and the arms are used to maintain the momentum of the blade handles.

Common Errors at Point 3

The blade handle is pulled down (instead of along) causing the blade to lift from the water before the end of the stroke. This is called ‘washing out’.

Point4

Point 4

The hands make a small tap downwards, to lift the blades clear of the water.

  • The legs are flat down.
  • The back is straight, but leaning slightly back so that the abdominal muscles feel a slight pull.
  • The blade handles just brush the body when the spoon end is flat on the water.

This is the end of the drive phase and the recovery phase begins.

Common Errors at Point 4

  • The rower sits too upright and the elbows droop down – the effect is to shorten the stroke.
  • The rower leans too far back – which delays the recovery.

Point5

Point 5

At the beginning of the recovery phase, the hands move down and away, following the trajectory of the arrow.

  • The arms move away from the body, which is balanced vertically, but the seat has not yet begun to move and the knees are still held down.
  • The arms, shoulders and neck are relaxed. This posture aids recovery from the exertion of the stroke, and helps to keep the boat balanced in the water.
  • The body then rocks over from the pelvis, with the back straight, and the knees lift, allowing the seat to move.

Common Errors at Point 5

The knees lift and get in the way of the hands, which should be moving parallel to the boat.

Point6b

Common Errors at Point 6

  • The hands are higher or lower than the point shown.
  • The body is not leaning forward at the angle shown.
  • The rower does not slow momentum before taking the catch.

Point7b

Common Errors at Point 7

The body is upright and the arms are not held out long enough.

Point8b

Point 8

The body at this point is in the catch position, moving forward until the shins are vertical and the sequence begins again.

Common Errors at Point 8

  • The rower does not reach forward to get a long stroke.
  • The body collapses over the knees.
  • The shins are not vertical.

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