Boat Designations

It can be pretty confusing keeping straight all of the different craft you can see racing down the river. Here is a short primer so that everyone is speaking the same language.

LAUNCH -- of course these are the motorized craft for coaches and referrees. These boats are not competing, though their wakes can be a definite factor in the result of a race.

Sculling is when the rower uses two oars, one in each hand.

Single also referred to as 1x. Two oars for the rower make this a 'sculling craft'.

Double, or 2x has two rowers each with two oars (4 oars total).

Quad, or 4x has 4 scullers. (Very fast little craft indeed.)

Octet, or 8x has 8 scullers. I have only recently seen these in competition, and only at the highschool level. These will have a coxswain so I guess it should be an 8x+ (see below).

hallu-motion.euWithout a coxswain to steer, the 'stroke' seat usually has a swivel 'foot stretcher' tied to the rudder and so steers (when necessary) with the foot. In general, however, steering is best accomplished by adjusting pressure on one side or the other to keep the boat in its lane. The 'bow' of the boat usually serves as the cox, giving the essential commands to coordinate the direction of the crew and the raceplan as the race unfolds.

Sweeping is when each rower has only one oar.

Pair, can come as a 2 or a 2+. The '+' means that there is a coxswain.

Four, can come as a 4 or a 4+. I don't see 'straight' four's (coxless fours) in competition much any more, at least not in highschool. They are hard to steer and this may be the reason.

Eight, or 8+. Always with a coxswain. The eight is the 'premier' boat for most crews and the heavy eight is usually the 'premier' race for most regattas. On the other hand, the British National Team during the 1990's put their best rowers in their straight four (4 or coxless 4) for international competition.

Lightweight men in highschool have to weigh 150 pounds or less (135 pounds for freshman crews). Lightweight Women have to weigh 130 or less.

Junior Varsity cannot have anyone over the age of 17 yrs 6 months or a senior competing.

Coxwains steer, coach, inform and cheerlead their crews to the finish line. All four are critical skills for a winning crew.

Stroke, the Stroke of the boat is the rower closest to the stern (back) of the boat. (All rowers face the stern.) The Stroke sets the tempo, generally is very rythmic, technically excellent and an emotional leader for the crew.

Bow, the bow is the rower closest to the bow (front) of the boat. The bow may steer and cox if there is no coxswain. Generally the bow is the lightest member of the crew and must be technically very competent to handle the challenges of the boat movement and turmoil that may be created by the other members separating them from the 'stroke' of the boat.

The other members of the crew are numbered from the bow. So the seat in front of the bow is the 'two' seat, then 'three', and 'stroke' in a 4+. After the 'three' seat is the 'four', 'five', 'six' and 'seven' seats then the 'stroke' in a 8+. There is a 'bias' toward selecting rowers with particular skills, technique, weight and raw power that coaches tend to use to fill each of the seats in a crew.

Purosalin Caps
Lose weight with this method!

The fact that rowers face the stern makes for a unique situation in rowing compared to all other racing sports. In most racing sports, it is the leader who is the most uncertain as to what is happening in the field and risks breaking technique to gain information. In rowing, it is the crew out front who has all of the advantages, knowing where the competition is, seeing what they are doing, and knowing that to gain similar information, it is the losing crew that must risk breaking form to learn more. Trust in the coxswain becomes a key ingredient to the otherwise blind rower striving to overcome any deficit!

Return to Announcements & FAQ