STAGING Glossary - British Rowing


From the difference between a quad and a four, to ‘rigger jiggers’ and ‘rating’, get up to speed with common rowing terms

A Glossary of Rowing Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | W

Open All

A                                        Back to top

Adaptive Rowing

The term British Rowing uses for a type of rowing that can be done by anyone with a disability.


Towards the stern.


The Amateur Rowing Association – former name for British Rowing.

B                                        Back to top

Back down

Reverse rowing used to manoeuvre the boat backwards or for turning.


The back brace of a rigger that locks the pin in position.

Back stops

The position at which the rower sits with their legs straight and oar handle to their chest.


See Oar.


See Collar.


1. The front of the boat. 2. Rower that sits in the seat position nearest the front of the boat.

Bow Ball

Ball shaped safety cap that sits over the bow end of the boat. Compulsory on all rowing boats for safety of other water users.

Bow Loader

A boat where the cox sits at the front (bow) of the boat.


A small number of strokes (usually less than a minute) taken at full pressure in training.

C                                        Back to top


The covered section at the bow and stern of the boat. Often used as a description of how much a race was won or lost by.


The moment at which the spoon of the oar is immersed in the water and foot pressure applied. In indoor rowing this point in the stroke is also referred to as the Start.


The most common type of oar, which has a spoon in the shape of a meat cleaver.


The plastic circular section of the oar that is pressed against the swivel when rowing.


Person who steers the boat by using the steering mechanism. Can be positioned in either the stern or bow of the boat.


Boat without a cox.


When the oar becomes caught in the water at the moment of extraction and the oar handle strikes the rower. Often causes unintentional release of the oar and significant slowing of boat speed. When this happens the phrase is to ‘catch a crab’.

D                                       Back to top


Double scull: a boat for two scullers.


The part of the stroke between the catch and the extraction when the oar is in the water and propelling the boat.

E                                        Back to top


Indoor rowing machine used for training or indoor racing.


The removal of the oar from the water by application of downward pressure to the oar handle. Also known as the Finish (of the stroke).

F                                        Back to top


Oar spoon is parallel to the water. This is the position of the oar spoon for the recovery section of the stroke. Rowers must be careful to fully extract the oar before feathering.


A piece of metal or plastic attached to the underside of the boat towards the stern. Provides directional stability by preventing sideways slippage.


The last part of the stroke where the oar handle is drawn in to the body. Force must be applied to the spoon right to the finish so that water does not catch up with the spoon.


Term used to suggest that the rower is applying full pressure to the power phase of their rowing stroke.

Fixed Seat

A description used to differentiate a boat without a sliding seat mechanism.


The Federation Internationale des Societes d’Aviron is the international rowing federation, now known as World Rowing. The Federation is responsible for all international racing and rules. Organises a series of three world cup regattas, an annual World Championship and the World Coastal Championships.

Foot rest

The place on a rowing machine where you put your feet. It can be adjusted to suit your height or flexibility and has straps to secure your feet in place.

Foot stretcher

A bar inside the boat to which the footplate is attached.


Boat for four sweep rowers. Can be coxed or coxless.

Front stay

The front brace of the rigger that secures the pin in place.

Front stops

The position at which the rower sits with their shins vertical at the front of the slide.

G                                       Back to top


The metal bar, tightened by a screw that closes over the swivel to secure the oar.


Term used to describe the ratio of inboard to outboard on the oar that determines how much power the rower can apply through the water.


The upper edge of the side of a boat.

H                                       Back to top

Head Race

Race in which crews are timed over a set distance. Usually run as a processional race rather than side by side.

Heel Restraints

Attached to the heels of the shoes and to the foot plate. Compulsory safety feature that helps the rower to release their feet from the shoe in the event of a capsize.


A rigging measurement. The vertical distance from seat to point of work at the centre of the bottom edge of the swivel.

I                                         Back to top


The length of the oar from the end of the handle to the button at the point where it will sit against the swivel.

L                                        Back to top


The sleeve on an oar (blade) which protects the loom from being damaged by the pins.


Length of stroke -the arc through which the oar travels when it is in the water from catch to finish.


The shaft of the oar from the spoon to the handle.

M                                      Back to top


Type of oar that has the traditional tulip shaped spoon.


The centre bar of a rigger.

N                                       Back to top


Someone who has very little rowing experience.

O                                       Back to top


Lever used to propel a rowing boat. Also known as a blade.


The length of the oar from the tip of the spoon to the button at the point where it will sit against the swivel.


The amount by which the scull handles overlap when a rower holds them horizontally at right angles to the boat.

P                                        Back to top


Rowers who have successfully been through the classification process and have been assigned a Sport Class. These rowers are eligible to compete at all levels including the corresponding Rowability grouping and LTA, TA or AS events up to and including the Paralympic Games.


The spindle on which the swivel rotates.


Angle of inclination of the spoon to the vertical during the propulsive phase of the stroke. This is dictated by both the stern and lateral pitch.


Awarded to rowers for winning races. Number of points determines the status of the rower. See the British Rowing Rules of Racing for more details.


Stabilising float that attaches to the rigger.


Left hand side of the boat in direction of travel (stroke side). Often marked by a red stripe on the oar.


Position of back and shoulder muscles during the stroke cycle.


The amount of effort applied by the rower to the power phase of the stroke (usually light, ½, ¾, firm or full).

Q                                       Back to top


Boat for four scullers.

R                                       Back to top

Rate or rating

Number of strokes rowed in a minute (also see stroke rate).


The ratio of the time taken for the power phase to that of the recovery phase of the stroke.


The part of the stroke phase between the extraction (finish) and the beginning or catch when the oar is out of the water.


A knock-out competition usually involving heats, semi-finals and finals for each event. Boats compete side by side.


In regattas a system that enables losing crews of a heat to race again, and go through to the finals.


The regularity and consistency of a crew’s stroke pattern.


Metal outrigger attached to the outer shell of the boat next to each seat that supports the swivel and the pin. There are currently several different designs of rigger from two or three stay metal or carbon tubing to metal or carbon wings.


The way in which the riggers, slides, swivel, pins, foot plate, oars and sculls can be adjusted to optimise rower comfort and efficiency.

Rigger jigger

A small double-ended spanner mainly used for attaching and adjusting riggers. One end is 10mm and the other is 13mm diameter.


Rowers who have been through the classification process and have been confirmed as meeting a minimal disability, but are not eligible for Para-Rowing. These rowers will have been assigned a boat grouping and are eligible to compete in all British Rowing competitions up to but not including the British Rowing Championships.


The device under the boat which when moved causes change of direction. Linked to the steering mechanism.

Running start

A racing start undertaken with the boat already moving.


S                                        Back to top


The sides of the boat above the water line made to strengthen the boat where the riggers attach.


The oar used for sculling. Smaller and shorter than a sweep oar.


Rowing with two oars.


The hull of the boat. Made from either wood or a synthetic material.


Two metal runners on which the seat travels.


Fixed to the loom of the oar and circled by the collar. Collar can be moved along the sleeve to adjust the gearing of the oar.


The distance between the centres of the port and starboard side pins on a sculling boat.


Term used to describe the pace an individual is rowing, referenced as the time it takes to row 500m. It is one of the units you will see on a rowing machine monitor and will displayed as a time 0:00.0/500m.


The end of the oar which enters the water. Usually painted in the colours of the club represented by the rower.


Distance between the centreline of the shell to the centre of the pin in a sweep boat.

Square or squaring

To turn the oar so that the spoon is at 90º to the water. This action should be done early enough during the recovery to ensure good preparation for the catch. See also Feathering.

Standing start

A racing start done from stationary.


Right hand side of the boat in direction of travel (bow side). Often marked by a green stripe on the oar.

Stake boat

An anchored boat or pontoon from which rowing boats are held prior to a race starting.


Levels of racing determined by the number of times a rower has won a race. See the British Rowing Rules of Racing for more details.


The end of the boat that travels through the water last.

Stern loader

A boat where the cox sits at the back (stern) of the boat.


1. One cycle of the oar. 2. The rower who sits closest to the stern of the boat in front of all the others and is responsible for the rating and rhythm of the boat.

Stroke rate

The number of strokes rowed in one minute. Sometimes referred to simply as “rate”.


Rowing with one oar on one side of the boat.


The U shaped plastic rotating piece mounted on the pin in which the oar sits whilst rowing.

T                                        Back to top

Tap down

To the lower the hands at the end of the stroke to remove the spoon from the water.

Tap turn

Term used to describe a method of turning the boat where each rower uses a forwards or backwards rowing action with their arms only.

Thole pin

In fixed seat boats the oar will lie in between 2 pins.


Structural cross piece forming a seat in a traditional rowing boat.


Portable stand used to support a boat for rigging, washing and admiring.

W                                      Back to top

Washing out

Allowing the oars to become uncovered in the propulsive phase of the stroke, usually towards the end of the stroke.

More in this section

British Rowing Technique

Technique is a key aspect of a rower’s development, alongside physical and psychological development

View Content

Rowing Machine Technique

Good technique on the indoor rower will maximise the benefit of your training and ensure that you do not injure yourself

View Content

What to Wear

You don’t need special or expensive sports kit when you’re getting started

View Content