Racing Terms

A bow ball -- referring to the ball that covers the bow of the boat to increase its safety in case of collision, in a race, this usually refers to a lead of inches. Often, a bowball lead exchanges hands boat to boat depending on which boat's blades happen to be in the water (the drive) and which boat's blades are out of the water (recovery).

A crab -- This refers to a serious error in rowing that can be catastrophic for the boat as it can be catastrophic to the rower that 'catches' the crab. A crab occurs when the blade, either because it is placed in the water at an angle instead of perpendicular to the water, or is rotated at a angle prior to it being removed from the water, gets caught by the speed and power of the boat's motion dragging it down toward the bottom. The oarhandle then flys up and outward. In 8's at full speed, the rower hasn't the power to overcome the surge of the handle until the oar is parallel to the boat. Needless to say, a crab causes the crew to lose time as the victim tries to recover the oar, swing it back over their head to return it to the rowing position and regain the rythm of the crew. Often this is many strokes later if at all. Occasionally, the crabbed oar moves so violently that it can damage the boat, or even flip the rower out of the boat.

A deck -- referring to the canvas/plastic covered portion between the bow or stern of the boat and the open area for the crew, in a race, this usually refers to a lead that is about 10 - 15 feet (roughly 1/4 of a boat length).

Head Race -- A race against the clock. Each boat starts (usually at full speed) across a starting line, triggering the clock. Their finishing time is also noted and then compared to all other boats in the event. Generally, boats go off every 6-10 seconds.

Match Race -- Two boat racing over a course.

A Seat -- referring to the seat the rower uses, in racing, the term usually refers to a lead that is about 3 - 5 feet or the length of a position in the boat.

Settle -- The transition in stroke rating and power between the start of the race (usually a high stroke rating) and the body of the race (a more manageable stroke rating). This is a tricky spot for a crew that must all know exactly how to make the change and do it simultaneously to keep the crew in time.

Sprint -- An effort to move the boat as quickly as possible, exhausting the crew in an effort to reach the best time possible. This is usually accomplished by increasing the pressure and the stroke rating. Start -- A sequence of strokes specially practiced to get the boat moving to race speed as quickly as possible. See the article from US Rowing on this site by clicking HERE.

Start commands -- The predetermined commands to get the rowers ready and then started. Generally there are two commands such as "Attention, Go" or "Ready, Row", but various other phrases and three command sequences have been used in the past.

Stroke rating -- The number of strokes per minute the crew is rowing. Starts and Sprints can reach into the 40's, with the body of the race usually in the low to mid 30's.

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