Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

is how the boat is outfitted, including all of the apparatuses (oars, outriggers, oarlocks, sliding seats, etcetera) attached to a boat that allow the rower to propel the boat through the water. The term comes from an Old English wrigan or wrihan, which means “to clothe.” It literally means to outfit or clothe a boat. Rigging also refers to the configuration of the boat and settings of the apparatuses. The following terms are often associated with a boat’s rigging, along with other often used terms for equipment used in rowing.
The inside of a double scull. Shows the seat, slides, backstops, footplate, shoes and riggers.
A brace which is part of the rigger of sweep rowing boats, which extends toward the bow from the top of the pin.
The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the back end (towards the boat’s bow) of the slide tracks. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s bow. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “back end”).
The spoon or hatchet/cleaver shaped end of the oar. Also used to refer to the entire oar.
Bowloader/ bowcox / bow steered
A shell in which the coxswain seat is near the bow of the boat rather than its stern. The seat in a bow loader partially enclosed and is designed so that the coxswain is virtually lying down, in order to reduce wind resistance and distribute coxswains weight so as to create a lower center of gravity.
The front section of a shell; the first section of the shell to cross the finish line.
Bow ball
A small, soft ball no smaller than 4 cm diameter securely attached to a rowing or sculling boat’s bow. Primarily intended for safety, but also used in deciding which boat crossed the finish line first in very close races.
Bow number
A card displaying the lane number assigned to the boat for a race.
Bow/Starboard rigged
The person stroking the boat has their oar on the Bowside (Starboard or right side) rather than the typical Strokeside of the boat. (ex: “The Barge” is starboard rigged)
The deck of the bow and stern of the boat, which were traditionally covered with canvas.[5]
Cleaver blade
Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape. (also hatchet blade)
Collar / Button
A wide plastic ring placed around the sleeve of an oar. The button stops the oar from slipping through the oarlock.
Cox Box
Portable voice amplifier; may also optionally incorporate digital readouts displaying stroke rate, boat speed and times.
A portable amplification device, similar to a coxbox, incorporating a digital readout. Higher models may also have a built in radio and speed sensor.
Ergometer (also ergo or erg)
An indoor rowing machine.
Foot stretcher
An adjustable footplate, to which a pair of shoes is typically attached, which allows the rower to easily adjust his or her physical position relative to the slide and the oarlock. The footplate can be moved (or “stretched”) either closer to or farther away from the slide frontstops. (also “Footplate”, “Footchock”, or “Footstop”)
The stop mechanism on the seat slides which prevents the rower’s seat from falling off the sliding tracks at the front end (towards the boat’s stern) of the slide tracks. Also, in the UK, the sliding seat position closest to the boat’s stern. As a command, it instructs the crew to adopt this position. (The US calls this seat position the “front end”)
Bar across the top of oarlock, secured with a nut, which prevents the oar from coming out of the oarlock. Also historically used to refer to the oarlock or rowlock.
(pronounced: gunnels) The top rail of the shell (also called Saxboard)
The part of the oar that the rowers hold and pull with during the stroke.
Hatchet blade
Modern oar blades that have a more rectangular hatchet-shape and which are not symmetrical. (also cleaver blade)
Two sculling oars. The “blades” are at the top of the picture and the handles are at the bottom of the picture. The blades are “hatchet blades.”
The actual body of the shell.
The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the handle.
A structure timber resembling the keel, but on the inside of the shell.
A motorboat used by rowing instructors, coaches or umpires. Referred to as a “coach boat” in Canada.
A thick piece of plastic on modern oars around the oar to keep the oar lock from wearing out the shaft of the oar (typically wood or carbon fiber).
The ropes held by the coxswain to control the rudder.
The part of the oar between the blade and the handle.
Macon Blade
Traditional U-shaped oar blade. (also spoon blade and tulip)
A slender pole which is attached to a boat at the Oarlock. One end of the pole, called the “handle,” is gripped by the rower, the other end has a “blade,” which is placed in the water during the propulsive phase of the stroke.
The rectangular lock at the end of the rigger which physically attaches the oar to the boat. The oarlock also allows the rower to rotate the oar blade between the “square” and “feather” positions. Also historically called ‘Rowing Gate’ by some manufacturers.

An Oarlock attached to a Rigger

The length of the oar shaft measured from the button to the tip of the blade.
(See Rigger)
The vertical metal rod on which the rowlock rotates.
A type of mitten with holes on each end, which allow the rower to grip the oar with bare hands while also warming the hands, used frequently by rowers in colder climates.
The left side of the boat when facing forward.
The name given to that part of the boat to which the skin of the hull is attached. They are typically made of wood, aluminum or composite materials and provide structural integrity. (see also shoulder).
Rowing slang name for an Outrigger. It is a projection from the side (gunwale) of a racing shell. The oarlock is attached to the far end of the rigger away from the boat. The rigger allows the racing shell to be narrow thereby decreasing drag, while at the same time placing the oarlock at a point that optimizes leverage of the oar. There are several styles of riggers, typically attached either to the side of the hull or to the top of the gunwhales. The most common is the triangle frame or Euro rigger (USA), with two points attached to the boat (and almost always with a backstay in addition), and the third point being where the oarlock (gate) is placed. Rigging refers to whether a boat is stroked by a port or starboard (i.e. port-rigged, starboard-rigged). With sweep rowing, riggers typically alternate sides, though it is not uncommon to see two adjacent seats rigged on the same side of the boat.
The wheels upon which the seat slide travels along its track.
Adjacent to the skeg and used by the coxswain (or in some coxless boats, by a rower using a “toe” or foot steering mechanism) to steer the boat via attached cables. Extra-large rudders are used on narrower and/or bendier rivers.
The sides and top edge of a boat, to which the riggers attach – see also Gunwales
(a) An oar made to be used in a sculling boat where each rower has two oars, one per hand (b) A boat (shell) that is propelled using sculling oars, e.g., a “single scull,” is a one-person boat where the rower has two oars.
Molded seat mounted on wheels, single action or double action. Single action is fixed bearing wheel, double action is wheel on axle that rolls on track and rolls on horns of seat. A secondary meaning of location in the shell, the bow seat is one, and is numbered upward to the stroke seat (8, in an 8 man shell). Thirdly can mean a competitive advantage in a race, to lead a competitor by a seat is to be in front of them by the length of a single rower’s section of a shell.
Seating positions in a racing shell are generally numbered from the bow to the stern in English-speaking countries, unlike many non-English-speaking countries which count from the Stroke forward. Generally the forwardmost rower is called the “Bow” and the aftmost rower the “Stroke”, regardless of the number of rowers in the boat, with all other seats simply being numbered. So for instance the crew of an eight (with coxswain) would number off from the bow: “Bow”, “Two”, “Three”, “Four”, “Five”, “Six”, “Seven”, “Stroke”, whereas a four (with or without coxswain) or a quad would number off: “Bow”, “Two”, “Three”, “Stroke”.
The boat used for rowing.
Load bearing supports that mount rigger and attach to keel of boat. (also knee)
Skeg (or fin)
Thin piece of flat metal or plastic that helps stabilize the shell in the water.
Slides (or tracks)
Hollow rails upon which a rower or sculler’s sliding seat will roll. Older shells might be convex rails with double wheels.
Folding, portable temporary boat holders. Two are required to hold a boat.
A blade design in which the face of the oar blade is smooth, without the traditional central spine.
Speed coach
A device mounted on the keel of some high-performance shells that determines the boat’s speed based on the speed of a small propeller and transmits this information to the coxbox.
Spoon blade
Traditional U-shaped oar blade, which is symmetrical down the center of the shaft. (also Macon blade or “Tulip”)
Starboard (or Starboard side)
The right side of the boat when facing forward.
Starboard rigged
A boat where the stroke rower is a starboard rower. (ex: “The Barge” is starboard rigged)
Starting gate
A structure at the starting line of the race. The shell is “backed” into the starting gate. Once in the gates a mechanism, or person lying on the starting gate, holds the stern of the shell.
The rear section of a shell.
A slang abbreviation for Foot Stretchers.
The rowlock/oarlock. Often referred as gate due to the securing bar/gate at its top.
In some boats without a coxswain, a rower may be able to control the rudder and steer the boat by changing the direction his foot points. This is called “toeing a boat.” And the mechanism is called a “toe.” (also: “foot steering”)
The nut which screws onto the top of the pin holding the Rowlock in place.
(see Slides)
(see Spoon Blade)
(see Roller)
Wing Rigger
More modern version of an outrigger in the shape of a wing. It has a stiffer workthru which makes the boat more responsive to the power of the stroke. This can also have the extra support of a backstay. Wing riggers can either be stern or bow rigged.
“Ahead” or “Look Ahead”
Command shouted by a crew about to be overtaken by another crew, telling the overtaking crew of their presence.
“(#) tap it” or “(#) row on”
Tells the rowers to row until told to stop –e.g. “Two, hit it…”
“Back it”
To have the rowers place their blades at the release position, squared, and push the oar handle towards the stern of the boat. This motion causes the shell to move backwards.
“Blades Down”
Used to tell the rowers to place their blades back on the water after performing an easy-all.
“Blades in (side)”
Tell the rowers on one side to pull their blades in, in order to prevent hitting an object or another boat in the water, or to let another crew pass on a narrow river.
“Check it/her down”
Square the oars in the water to stop the boat.
“Count Down” (or “number off”)
Tells the crew to call out their seat number, starting at the bow, when ready to row.
In a crew, the coxswain /ˈkɒksən/ (or simply the cox) is the member who sits in the stern (except in bowloaders) facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers.
“Down on port/starboard”
Means that the boat is leaning to one side or the other. Rowers on the side that is down must raise their hands, and the other side must lower their hands.
“Easy” (or “ease up”)
To stop rowing hard.
“Even pressure”
This command tells the rowers to pull with even pressure on both sides. This is the complement to ease-up.
“Firm up”
Tells the rowers to apply more pressure as needed.
“power ten”
Commands the crew to row 10 strokes of special effort. It is frequently given when a crew is attempting to pass another boat.
“Gunnel it!”
A command by the coxswain, where the rowers all hit the gunwhales (sides) of the boat with their oar handles. Used in set exercises occasionally.
“Hands in”
Tells the rowers to grab the ribs on the inside of the boat so that the boat can be rolled from heads. The coach or cox uses this command when the crew is putting the shell in the water.
“Hands on”
Tells the rowers to grab the boat next to their seats, so that the boat can be moved.
“Hands on the dock” (or “ready to shove”)
Tells the rowers to grab the dock in preparation for shoving off.
“Hard on port/starboard” (or “port/starboard pressure”)
The rowers on that side of the boat must row harder (and the opposite side must row slightly easier) in order to facilitate a sharper turn.
“Heads” or “Heads Up”
Off the water, a shout to alert others to watch out for a boat being carried.
“Up and over heads, and up”
Tells the rowers to press the boat above their heads.
“Hold Water”
Emergency stop, also used after the command way enough. It instructs the rowers to square their blades in the water to stop the boat.
“In 2…”
Most water commands are appended prior to the command to take place after two strokes. For example “In 2, Power 10” or “In 2, Weigh-enough.”
“Inside Grip”
A command used when lifting the boat. Grab the boat so that you can lift it over your head. Grab only the gunwale or hull structure – do not lift by the footstop assembly.
“Hands on”
Command given telling the athletes to go to their stations and grab a hold of the boat.
“Let it/her run”
To stop rowing after a given piece of on the water rowing length, but to put the handles of the oars either to the gunwales or out in front of the rower, in such a manner that the oar paddles are parallel to the water yet not touching it. This allows the boat to glide for a distance leaving no paddle wake in the water. Similar, but not exactly the same is the command “Gunnel”, where rowers push the oars until the handle touches the boat’s gunwale.
Tells a crew to row with just enough pressure to move the boat. The paddle command is also used to bring a crew down from full pressure at the end of a workout piece or race.
“Pick it / Picking”
A rapid stroke where rowers use only their arms and use minimal pressure. An effective and impressive way to turn a boat when done right.
“Power 10”
The command to take 10 strokes at more than full pressure. Used for passing and gaining water in a race. (sometimes “Power 5”, “Power 20”, or “Power 30”)
“Ready all, Row”
Begin rowing.
“Roll it”
Tells the crew to flip the boat over, in unison, from above their heads.
“Set it up”
Reminds the rowers to keep the boat on keel.
“Set ready”
Commands the crew to move to the catch blades buried, and be ready to start the race.
A command and a part of the race. This tells the rowers that the crew is going to bring the stroke rate down for the body of the race, but still maintain the pressure. This usually occurs in the middle of the race.
“Shoulders, ready, up”
Tells the crew to lift the boat from any position below their shoulders, up to shoulder height. Can be reversed to lower the boat from heads to shoulders, i.e., “Shoulders, ready, down!” This is the best position for carrying a shell.
“Sit in”
Tells the crew to get into the boat.
A command used if the stern is held by a stake boat. “Port scull” usually means Two seat takes Bow’s oar in front of him/her and rows lightly with it. Likewise, “Starboard scull” means Three seat takes Two seat’s oar and does the same. This is easier than having one seat take a stroke since it can move the boat in a more parallel direction.
“Swing it”
A command used when carrying a boat to start turning either bow or stern.
“Take the run off”
To stop rowing and hold the blades at a 45 degree angle in the water to slow the boat down.
“Touch it / Touching”
A stroke where rowers use only their arms and back. Used mostly for warm-up or to turn a boat.
“One foot up & out”
The command for exiting a team boat.
“On the square”
To row without feathering the blades on the recovery.
“Waist, ready, up”
Tells the crew to lift the shell to their waist.
“Watch your blades (side)”
Tells one side to look out at their blades, and take action to prevent them possibly hitting something.
“Way enough”
The command to stop rowing or, in some cases, whatever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing. (“Way” is a nautical term for the movement of a boat through water (as in headway and right-of-way). So the command “way enough”, literally means to enough moving the boat). Often pronounced way-nuf, wane-up or wane-off in the United States.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING ROWING?2016-12-04T19:07:08-04:00

A full water bottle. There’s a place for your car keys in the boathouse, which will be locked while we are on the water.

WHAT IF I SOMETHING COMES UP AND I CAN’T ROW?2017-10-29T19:16:20-04:00

Once you are assigned a seat, you are committed to row. We understand that things come up, however, so if you see yourself “boated” (assigned to a seat) but can’t make it, get in touch ASAP with the coach of the day or the DRC (Daily Row Coordinator)–both are listed on the Google doc. The Google doc’s Roster tab gives contact info. Texting is best.

WHERE WILL I BE SEATED?2016-12-04T19:05:18-04:00

Your coach will assign seats before the row, so that everyone can see the line-ups. If you feel more confident rowing port or starboard, please indicate your preference on the Google doc in the “P/S” column. But don’t get too attached – the best rowers are equally comfortable on either side, so the coach will encourage you to try both sides.

WHAT IF IT’S RAINING?2016-12-04T19:04:46-04:00

Plan to row, but check the Google doc before you head out. In the event of a torrential downpour, high winds, or thunderstorm, practice may be canceled or moved to the indoor rowing center (coach’s call).

HOW SHOULD I DRESS FOR ROWING?2016-12-04T19:04:08-04:00

Dress for the weather, in breathable layers (but nothing baggy). There will be frequent breaks to shed clothing. Wear socks (wool socks are great in the cold/wet weather); your shoes will be removed and placed in the boat in front of your seat. Sunscreen is always a good idea, along with a hat or sunglasses.


It is up to the coach to determine the appropriate level for each rower. Please feel free to contact your coach directly or check at the end of the session. He or she will gladly let you know, and explain what is needed to advance, if necessary.


A make-up may be possible. Will try our best to fit you in. Simply add your name to the Make-up/SRows column on the day on which you wish to make up your row. After your name, list “sw” if you are a sweep rower, “sc” if you’re a sculler, or “*” if you’re happy to sweep or scull–wherever there’s room. Also, please list the date of the missed row you are attempting to make up.

If there is room for you, you’ll be boated (if it’s the On-the-Water season), and if it’s the indoor season, your name will be shaded in green to indicate that.

If you’re unable to make up your missed row by the end of session, you can request a receipt for the value of your missed rows, which become a charitable contribution (tax-deductible), as RBC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

NOTE:  For any rows RBC cancels (such as for inclement weather)–if you’re unable to make them up–we will issue a rowing credit that extends past the current session.


You can purchase a “Single Row” online on our Programs page. Scroll down past the class offerings for the current session. Once you’ve registered, you’ll need to sign up on the Google doc, to request that row on a particular day, and if space allows, you’ll be able to attend the extra class. Contact the Registration Team with any questions. Registrations@rochesterboatclub.org.

In the on-the-water season, you may also be able to sub (and subbing is free)!

HOW DO I GET THERE?2016-12-04T18:25:30-04:00

In the off season we row indoors at the Pittsford Indoor Rowing Center (the PIRC) at 2800 Clover Street, Pittsford, near Lock 32. When leaving, please make sure only one car is waiting at the top of the hill to exit. Please make only a right turn onto Clover Street.

HOW SHOULD I DRESS?2016-12-04T18:57:43-04:00

Dress in layers (but nothing baggy). There will be frequent breaks to shed clothing. Wear comfortable sneakers. The PIRC can be cold at first, but once you’re rowing you will probably want to have a light shirt/t-shirt on.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?2016-12-04T18:27:13-04:00

A full water bottle. The PIRC has a water fountain that can be used to refill your bottle. There are cubes for holding jackets, keys, and things you do not want to keep on you while you row.