Big Red Crew    

Parkersburg High School

Parkersburg, West Virginia

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Next Booster meeting:
May 12th,
2011 at the boat site or PHS,
Annex Building
2nd Floor,
Room 603
@ 6:15 PM.

Next Regatta:
 Saturday- Sunday, May 21-22, 2011 – Midwest Regional Scholastic Rowing Championships, Oak Ridge, TN on Melton Lake.


Possible event Saturday, May 14th in Marietta, OH on the Muskingum river - further information forthcoming.







Rowing is a total body workout.  Rowing only looks like an upper body sport.  Although upper body strength is important, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs.  Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involves all of the body’s major muscle groups.  It is a great aerobic workout, in the same vein as cross-country skiing,and is a low-impact sport on the joints.


Rowers are probably the world’s best athletes. Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it is done well.  Don’t be fooled.  Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically fit athletes for nothing.  The sport demands endurance, strength, balance, mental discipline, and an ability to continue on when your body is demanding that you stop.


Sweep and sculling.  There are two basic types of rowing:  sweep rowing and sculling.  In sweep rowing. Athletes hold one oar with both hands.  In sculling, the athletes have two oars, one in each hand.


The boat.  Although spectators will see hundreds of different races at a rowing event, there are only six basic boat configurations.  Sweep rowers come in pairs, fours, and eights. Scullers row in singles, doubles and quads.  Sweep rowers may or may not carry a coxswain, the person who steers the boat and serves as the on water coach.  All eights have coxswains, but pairs and fours may or may not.  In all sculling boats and sweep boats without coxswains, a rower steers the boat by using a rudder moved by the foot.


The categories.   Rowers are categorized by gender, age, and weight.  Events are offered for men and women, as well as for mixed crews containing an equal number of men and women.  There are junior events for rowers 18 or under or who spent the previous year in high school, and there are masters events for rowers 27 years old and older.  There are two weight categories:  lightweight and open weight.


The equipment.  Today’s rowing boats are called shells, and they are made of lightweight carbon fiber.  The smallest boat on the water is the single scull, which is only 27-30 feet long, a foot wide and approximately 30 pounds.  Eights are the largest boats at 60 feet and a little over 200 pounds for the newer ones.  Rowers use oars to propel their shells.  Sweep oars are longer than sculling oars, typically with carbon fiber handles and rubber grips (although some sweepers still prefer wooden handles).  Sculling oars are almost never wood.


The crew.  Athletes are identified by their position in the boat.  The athlete sitting in the bow, the part of the boat that crosses the finish line first, is the bow seat or Number one seat.  The person in front of the bow is Number two, then number three and so on.  The rower closest to the stern that crosses the finish line last is known as the stroke.  The stroke of the boat must be a strong rower with excellent technique, as the stroke is the person who sets the rhythm of the boat for the rest of the rowers.


SPM no MPH.  Rowers speak in terms of strokes per minute, literally the number of strokes the boat completes in a minute’s time.  The stroke rate at the start is high-38-45, even into the 50’s for an eight and then “settles” to a race cadence typically in the 30’s.  Crews sprint to the finish, taking the rate up once again.  Crews may call for a “Power 10” during the race- a demand for the crew’s most intense 10 strokes.


Race watching.  The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job.  When watching a race, look for a continous, fluid motion from the rowers, synchronization in the boat;clean catches; oars entering the water with little splash; and the boat with the most consistent speed.


Teamwork is number one.  Rowing isn’t a great sport for athletes looking for MVP status.  It is, however, teamwork’s best teacher.  The athlete trying to stand out in an eight will only make the boat slower.  The crew made up of individuals willing to sacrifice their personal goals for the team will be on the medal stand together.  Winning teammates successfully match their desire, talent and bladework with one another.


Rowing is the ultimate walk-on sport.  US Rowing is a membership organization that serves rowers of every ages and ability from the beginner to the experiences rower to the national team. So, there’s definitely a place for you.







Bow:  The forward end of the boat which crosses the finish line first.

Blade:  The end of the oar which prys the boat through the water.

Bucket Rigging:  Two riggers on the same side next to each other instead of alternated.

Catch:  The entrance of the oar blade into the water at the beginning of the stroke.

Check:  Amount of interruption of forward progress of the shell which commonly occurs at the catch and sometimes at the release.

Check it down:  Stop immediately. Square blades in the water and hold.

Coxswain:  Person who steers the shell from a sseat located in the stern or a lying position in the bow.

Crab:  Upsetting action caused by turning an oar blade in the water so the release is either forced or impossible to make.

Ergs:  Short for ergometer; individualized rowing simulators that help strength  and conditioning.

Feathering:  Turning the oar blade flat during the recovery to lessen wind resistence.

Foot stretcher:  Where the rower’s feet are tied.

Head Race:  The traditional fall regatta, in which boats cross the starting line at full speed at roughly 15 second intervals.  The course usually involves navigating three miles of river, around bends and under bridges.

Lightweight:  A crew on which each athlete weighs under a specific amount  (130 pounds for women)

Novice:  A rower in the first year of collegiate competition.

Oar:  A 12’5” long, carbon fiber lever that moves the boat through the water.

Port:  The left side of the boat.

Power 10 or 20:  A tactical move of 10 or 20 strokes; a tactic the cox uses to motivate the crew to meet a specific goal.

Recovery:  The time between strokes while the oar blade is traveling through the air.

Release:  The oar blade leaving the water at the finish, or end of the stroke.

Regatta:  The name of rowing events in which several crews compete.

Repechage:  A second chance race for those crews which do not automatically advance to the finals of an event through the heat.

Rigger:  The metal or carbon fiber structure attached to the side of the boat into which the oar fits.

Rigging:  The relationship between the oar, the rigger and the position of each rower.  Changing the rigging means changing the leverage, just as a bicycle rider changes gears.  Most crews have an optimum rigging, depending on their size, strength and experience.

Run:  The distance the shell moves during one stroke.

Sculling:  Type of rowing where each rower uses two oars.

Shell:  Boat used in the rowing races; seats nine people for an Eight and five people for a Four, and ranges in length from 45 feet for a Four to 58 feet for an Eight.

Sprints:  Used in collegiate competition, this type of race features a course which is 2000 meters long, usually with four to six unmarked or buoyed lanes and a floating or staked start.

Starboard:  The right side of the boat.

Stern:  The back of the boat; the end the rowers face during competitions.

Stroke:  A complete cycle of moving the shell through the water; the rower who sits closest to the stoern, looks directly at the coxswain in a sterncoxed boat and sets the rhythm for the shell.

Stroke Rate:  The number of strokes taken per minute, or cadence.

Sweeping:  Type of rowing where each rower uses one oar.

Swing:  The hard to define feeling when near-perfect synchronization of motion and power application occurs in the shell, maximizing the shell’s speed.

Varsity:  The collegiate or high school rower who competes beyond the novice level.

Weigh Enough:  Halt,  In general, stop whatever you are doing.





Website management and editor Michael S. Moses                                                                                                                                                                                     email: [email protected]