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Rowing Terminology – Part 2

Sculling Oar

Once again, we make a big splash as we hit the water to find out all about rowing terminology. In part one we learned about gunwales, outriggers, and freeboards among other things. In this blog we find out what rear-facing rowing systems are all about, along with shell boats.

Rear-facing Rowing Systems

The traditional way of rowing is to be facing the rear as you pull on your oars and cut through the water. Whilst you are rowing you face the stern, and the boat will move in the opposite direction to the way that you are facing. This is the most common way to row a pleasure craft, although there are exceptions.

Sculler, Sliding Seat and Rowing Commands

A sculler is somebody who rows using two oars, which is different to sweep-style where only one oar is used per rower. Many racing boats have sliding seats as they help the power of the rower. They allow the rower to push with their legs as well as to pull on the oars, therefore gaining immense power. The commands given to a set of rowers are long and varied, they are issued from the cox to the other members of the boat. As this is a section totally by itself, we will address this at another time.

Fine Boats / Shells

Fine boats are sometimes called racing shells, they are long and narrow and designed specifically for racing. These boats are propelled with long oars and they have outriggers to support them. Fine boats also have seats that slide enabling the rowers to get a full momentum and action in their rowing technique. Many rowers refer to sculling when they are talking about racing boats.

Sculling Oar

A sculling oar is a way of propelling a boat by pushing the oar from side to side. This is a very old rowing technique that dates back to ancient times. There is one big advantage to this form of propulsion and that is it far easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Think in terms of a gondola and you will not be too far away.

Thole Pins and Trim

Thole pins are a rudimentary form of oarlocks, but instead of a fixed enclosed contraption they are simply wooden pins that are attached to the boat that stop the oar from sliding about. The trim of a boat is how it sits in the water, sailors will look to gain optimum trim as the boat will handle much better. If the trim is bad then both the handling and the speed will be effected.

Waterline Length

This piece of terminology is exactly what you would think, it is the length of the boat as it sits in the water, this can be a lot less than the overall size of the boat on dry land. Waterline length is generally used when trying to calculate the speed of the boat. All these pieces of rowing terminology must be learned in tandem with trying to learn the techniques of rowing. And it is important that you are fully aware of what they all mean if you intend to take up rowing seriously.