useful rowing terminology
Blade: the spoon-shaped end of an oar. Can be used to refer to the entire oar. Bow: the rower closest to the front end of the boat when it is moving.
Bow side: left or starboard side (on the cox’s right as he or she looks up the boat).
Bumps race: boats chase each other in single file along a river and each crew tries to catch up with – and “bump” – the boat in front without being caught first by the boat behind. (In Cambridge this requires contact while at Oxford they don’t physically bump).
Catching a crab: the oar gets caught in the water at the point of extraction, which can have the effect of bringing the boat to a halt and potentially
ejecting the oarsman. Cox: from “Coxswain”, the person who steers the boat via wires attached to the rudder and directs the crew.
Head race: a timed race where competing crews row in a procession, generally starting at 30 second intervals, with their finishing times determining
their placing. Induction: generally a course run over a number of weekends to give a novice an introduction to rowing; skills acquired should be sufficient to enable them to take a seat in a novice eight. Rating: the number of strokes rowed
in a minute. Regatta: a side-by-side competition involving heats, semi-finals and finals for each event; boats compete from a standing start.
Stroke side: right or port side (on the cox’s left as he or she looks up the boat).
Winning blades: at the end of four days of Bumps races a crew that has bumped,
or caught, the boat it is following in each race it has competed in will “win their blades”; members of the crew are
crowned with willow from the bank
For details about British Rowing, call 020 8237 6700; www.britishrowing.org For the River and Rowing Museum, Henley, call 01491 415600 or go to