Head Races: Head races usually take place in the fall on rivers - hence the Head of the Charles, the Head of the Iowa, etc. Rowers start the course one after the other, about 15 seconds apart, navigate three miles of river - around bends and under bridges. Whomever completes the course in the shortest amount of time wins.

Sprint Races: These competitions are 2000 meters or approximately 1 1/4 miles. Most courses are divided into six buoyed lanes, allowing six boats to participate at any one time.

International Competition: The World Rowing Championships are held each non-Olympic year. The Junior World Championshimps are conducted each year, at a different site.

Indoor Races: Typically held in the winter, these races are contested on rowing machines at an indoor location. The rowing machines are computer linked and results are shown on large screens.


Abeam: Directly off the side of the shell.

"Back it down": Command from the coxswain for rowers to reverse blades and row backward in short strokes.

Blade: Flat surface of oar usually varing in width from 6 1/2 inches to 7 1/4 inches and in length from 24 to 30 inches. The surfaces of the blades are usually painted in the team's colors.

Blade Work: Action of blade during stroke, encompassing such techniques as "catch," "feathering, etc., used to describe the manner in which the rower handles the oar.

Body Angle: Amount at catch of forward lean of oarsperson's body from hips. Most stroke types have a 60 degree body angle to catch.

Bow: The forward section of the shell. Crosses the finish line first.

Breakage: The damage to a boat or to equipment. Breakage during the first 20 seconds of a race is grounds for a referee to recall all shells and restart the race.

Catch: That point in each stroke cycle at which the blade enters the water.

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

Collar: Portion of the oar shaft which fits into the oar lock for leverage by the rower.

Coxswain (cox-n): Member of the crew who sits in a stationary seat at the stern or lies in the bow facing forward. Primarly charged with stearing. Often calls rate and aids in carrying strategy by gauging the competition's position. Steers the boat and is the on-the-water coach. Must weigh at least 100 pounds.

Deck: Sections for shell at bow and stern covered by thin light material.

Finish: As part of the stroke cycle, the last part of the drive before release.

Layback: Amount of lean of rowers body at finish. Less angle then the catch.

Leg Drive: Power applied to stroke by legs against the stretcher towards bow.

Loom: Shaft of oar, between blade and handle.

Racing Start: First few strokes of race. Usually shorter and quicker than those used through the body of the race. Critical in setting tempo.

Stern: The rear of the shell.

Stroke Rate: Number of strokes per minute. Usually varies in a race from 38-40 at start to 28-34 in the middle and 34-42 at the finish.

Sweep: Oar, usually 12 feet long, one per rower, less than 7 lbs in weight. See "loom" and "blade" for more information.