In order to understand a culture you must first understand the people. Learning the language and expressions of the people help you to understand the culture. In order for you to better understand the rowing culture I will break down some of the common rowing terms.
There are many terms that a coxswain will use in order to communicate with their crew. Some of the terms coxswains use vary between the individual. Although the terms a coxswain uses are often important, I will only briefly address the terms that are consistent throughout the sport. I think it is more important to learn terms of the race and equipment in order to understand the sport as a spectator. These common rowing terms will allow you to converse with some knowledge of the sport.
First I will discuss the basic names associated with boats.
Shell: This is the physical boat without any equipment such as a riggers added to it.
Hull: This is the outside of the shell. The part of the boat that touches the water.
Rigger: Is bolted to the shell but is removed for travel. It holds the oar in place allowing the rower to move it on a more even plane.
Footstretcher: Located inside the boat and is where the rower places his feet (there are shoes attached to the foot stretcher in which the rower places his feet).
Seat: The part of the boat where the rower sits
Slide: The two tracks under the rower’s seat that allows them to move back and forth.
Next I will break down the basic movements of a stroke.
Catch: The part of the stroke where the blade enters the water.
Drive: This comes right after the catch. This is where power is applied to move the blade through the water and the boat forward.
Finish: This is the release of the stroke. This is when the blade exits the water.
Recovery: This is where you move from the finish back up to the catch with the blade out of the water. You are moving your body back to the catch to take another stroke.
This is a video showing the basic movements of a stroke.
General terms of the rowing
Stroke Rate: The number of strokes taken per minute
Bow Seat: Refers to the person in the front of the boat, closest to the bow. All seats are numbered 1-8 starting from bow to stern. The term 1-seat is never used. 1-seat is simply referred to as bow seat.
Stroke seat- This is the person closest to the stern who faces the coxswain. This would be 8 seat, but in the same fashion as 1 seat, the term 8 seat is never used. This seat is called stroke.
Cox Box. – This is the basic tool a coxswain uses. It is an amplification device that allows their voice to be heard throughout the speakers in a boat. The coxbox also records time and reads stroke rates.
Catching a Crab: When the blade of the oar gets stuck in the water at the finish. It causes the rower to loose control of the oar and to become stuck at the finish.
Ejector Crab: A severe crab. This is when the oar becomes stuck and the force behind the stuck oar is so powerful that it causes the rower to be ejected out of the boat.
Weigh-Enough: Is a phrase a coxswain will use to tell a crew to stop. In the boat it means stop rowing, It can also be used on land while carrying a boat to mean stop moving.
Set: A boat is set when it is lying centered and even in the water. When a boat is set it allows for maximum speed. A boat can be offset easily, by many factors. Some ways a boat can become offset is by rowers body weight not being evenly distributed, by not catching and finishing together, and by rowers having different handle heights. Many practices are focused on improving the set of a boat.
Digging: Is when a rower is pushing their oar to far down into the water. It causes the boat to move upward in the air out of the water rather than moving the boat forward. This also effects the set of the boat.
Washing out: Is when a rower does not finish their stroke. This often causes them to be off time from the rest of the rowers, and also prevents them from being able to apply their full power to the stroke. This also effects the set of the boat.
Skying: This is when a rower sticks their blade too high in the air during the recovery by dropping their hands at the catch. It off sets the boat and makes it difficult for them to catch at the same time as the other rowers in their boat.