The codes

Codes are M (Men’s) or W (Women’s) followed by the number of athletes in the crew, then + for coxed, – for coxless, x for scull. Reserves and spares are included in the team too.

Reserves, spares and injured

Official reserves and travelling spares accompany squads.

The Boats

Boats or shells were traditionally made from wood but are now mostly made from carbon fibre and plastic (eg Kevlar). They are 59.7-62.2cm wide and lengths vary by class (see below). A small fin is fitted at the bottom for stability. A rudder is attached to the fin or stern (except on sculling boats). A white ball is attached to the bow (safety measure, photo-finish). A washboard prevents waves from splashing water aboard. Seats are fitted with wheels which roll on runners or tracks.

The Oars

Oars are attached to the boat by adjustable outriggers and are hollow to reduce weight. The size and shape of oars is unrestricted, the average length of a sweep oar being 3.81m (12 feet 6 inches) and of a scull being 2.98m (9 feet 9 inches).

The Stroke

The stroke is made up of:

the catch;
in which oars are placed in the water

the pull through, or drive;
in which the legs are extended and the body opens up to make maximum use of the slide, levering the boat forwards

the finish;
in which oars come out of the water

the recovery;
in which the rower’s body moves towards the stern in preparation for the next stroke

Oars are rotated onto the feather parallel to the water surface at the finish to minimise air resistance and to the vertical at the catch to maximise water resistance.

Glossary

Canvas
the length of the foredeck

Crab
a disaster in which a rower fails to extract the oar from the water at the finish, causing the handle to smash him/her in the body or pull him/her overboard

Length
the length of the boat

Starboard
the right side of the boat facing forward

Puddles
swirls of water left by oars after a stroke

Rating (or beat)
the number of strokes taken in a minute

Portside
the left side of the boat facing forward

Washing
giving another boat a wash with churned up water

Boat classes

There are eight boat classes, of which five are for sweep-oared rowing in which the rower uses one oar with both hands, and three are for sculling in which two oars are used, one in each hand. Some classes carry a cox, who either sits in the stern or lies in the bow to steer the boat. The boat classes are:

boat
code
boat
name
length
in metres
length
in feet
weight
in kg
weight
in lbs
  Scull
boats
       
1x Single
scull
8.2m 27ft 14kg 30.8lbs
2x Double
scull
10.4m 34ft 27kg 59lbs
4x Quadruple
scull
13.4m 44ft 52kg 114lbs
  Sweep
boats
       
2- Coxless
pair
10.4m 34ft 27kg 59lbs
2+ Coxed
pair
10.4m 34ft 32kg 70lbs
4- Coxless
four
13.4m 44ft 50kg 110lbs
4+ Coxed
four
13.7m 45ft 51kg 112lbs
8+ Eight 19.9m 62ft 96kg 211lbs

The Lightweights

Lightweight men cannot weigh more than 72.5kg and the average of the whole crew cannot exceed 70kg (single sculler maximum 72.5kg). Lightweight women cannot weigh more than 59kg and the average of the whole crew cannot exceed 57kg (single sculler 59kg).

The Regatta

Championship races are rowed over 2,000 metres (1 mile 427 yards) in six lanes which are straight and buoyed. There are up to four rounds – heats, repechages, semi-finals and finals. The repechage round is for losing crews in the heats, meaning that every crew which loses in a heat has a second chance before being eliminated. The draw is conducted round by round according to alternative and previously undisclosed systems. The first three crews in each semi-final compete in the A final for places 1-6. The last three crews in each semi-final compete in the B final for places 7-12. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for the first three crews to cross the line in the A final.

Olympic and Rowing World Cup Programmes

Men’s Olympic rowing dates from 1896, women’s from 1976 and lightweights from 1996. The Olympic rowing programme has 14 events, 8 men’s and 6 women’s:

Men< Women
Single
Scull
Single
Scull

Scull

Scull

Scull Lightweight

Scull Lightweight

Quadruple
Scull
Quadruple
Scull
Coxless
Pair
Coxless
Pair
Coxless
Four
 
Coxless
four Lightweight
 
Eight Eight

The races

The boats are held by the stern on starting pontoons and the bows are aligned on the start line. The rower in the bow seat may raise his/her hand to indicate that the crew is not ready, up until the time when the starter conducts a roll call of the crews. After the last crew has been named in the roll call, the starter raises his/her red flag and gives the warning command “Attention” and, after a pause, says “Go”, simultaneously dropping his flag.
In the case of a false start, a bell is rung and the starter waves a red flag to recall the crews. Crews are allowed only one false start each before being eliminated. A re-start can also be called for equipment breakage within 100 metres of the start. Straying from a lane is punishable by the umpire by disqualification if interference takes place with another boat. The winner is the boat whose bow touches the finish line first, monitored by judges and a photo-finish camera. The umpire must raise his white flag at the end of a race to signify that it has been completed in accordance with the rules and that there has been no protest.