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Rowing Terminology

We know if you're new to the sport of rowing, it can be confusing to some of the terminology used by fellow rowers. Below is a few items we think will help you to understand what it is other rowers are talking about.

Catch angle/Finish angle:
The oar's angle from a line perpendicular to the shell. Catch angle is at the catch or beginning of the stroke; finish angle is at the finish or end of the stroke.
Clip-on Load Adjusting Mechanism: The C.L.A.M. slides on and off the shaft and fits over the sleeve to quickly adjust the inboard of an oar or scull. Adding one C.L.A.M increases the inboard by 1 cm, thereby the load you feel on the oar(s).
Gate/Oarlock Height
Vertical distance from the lowest point on the front edge of the seat at the front stop position to the midpoint of the oarlock shelf. This determines the level of your hands during the pull phase of the stroke, when the blade is just buried. If your hand level is too low, you will not have room to maneuver and feather your oar. If it is too high, you will feel uncomfortable as you pull through the water, and your oars may tend to wash out (come out of the water prematurely) during the stroke. An indicative oarlock height is for your when set at the catch position, the rowers arms slope downwards slightly at approximately 6 degrees.
The distance from the end of the handle to the blade side face of the colloar or C.L.A.M. The greater the inboard, the lighter the oar will feel in your hands, and the lighter your load will be when pulling through the water.
The distance between the tip of the blade and the blade-side face of the collar of C.L.A.M. The greater the outboard, the heavier the oar will feel and the greater the load will be.
The amount by which the hands cross each other at the midpoint of the sculling stroke. The overlap is a function of the inboard and the spread and is generally described as half of the difference between the spread and twice the inboard. Increasing the inboard will increase the overlap, unless you increase the spread accordingly at the same time. Overlap is a matter of personal preference, but is generally recommended to keep it between 12 - 20 cm. In general, taller people row with more overlap and shorter people row with less.
The vertical axle extending up from the end of the rigger around which the oarlock rotates. The expression "through the work" refers to the relative position of the pins and your seat at the beginning of the stroke. If the seat passes to the stern of the pins, you are said to be rowing "through the pin".
The distance between the two pins on a sculling boat; or the distance between the pin and the center line of a sweep boat. Spread interacts with the inboard setting to determine the overlap of your hands when the oars are perpendicular to the boat. Also, the greater the spread, the smaller the arc that your oar blades sweep through the water.
Also called gearing or leverage. Just as the gearing on a bicycle determines the force felt at the pedal, the load defined by certain rigging measurements determines the resistance (load). For example, you can increase the load by doing any of the following: decreasing the inboard; increasing the outboard; increasing your reach; using a longer oar without changing inboard or spread. You can also increase load by using a larger blade area.
The angle of the blade away from perpendicular during the pull phase of the stroke. This is the net result of the pitch in the oar itself and the pitch in the oarlock and the pitch on the pin. Too much pitch makes it hard to bury the blade; too little pitch makes it too easy to pull too deep through the water. When the total pitch is correct (about 5 degrees), the blade will balance in the water at a comfortable level, allowing the rower or sculler to concentrate on effort to propel the boat, rather than on blade depth in the water.

Is there any terminology you have heard that you are unsure about, or just want to ask us a question, please contact us.



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