What Is Crew?

Crew, or rowing, is a sport dating back to Ancient Egyptian times and involves propelling a boat on water using oars. There are different boat classes ranging from individual to a coxed eight-person boat. Boats can be either sweep, where each rower has one oar held in both hands, or sculling, where each rower has two oars, one in each hand. An explanation of the different boat classes is provided below.


    Sweep Boats

    Name Symbol Description
    Coxless Pair 2- Two rowers, with one oar each: one on the rower’s left-hand side, or ‘bow’ side and one on the right-hand side, or ‘stroke’ side. One of the rowers steers the boat through a rudder connected by cables to one of their shoes.
    Coxed Pair 2+ Two rowers, with one oar each and a coxswain (or ‘cox’) to direct the crew and steer the boat using a rudder attached to cables.
    Coxless Four 4- Four rowers, with one oar each, two on stroke side and two on bow side, with one of the rowers steering with their foot.
    Coxed Four 4+ Two rowers, with one oar each, and a cox to steer the boat.
    Coxed Eight 8+ Eight rowers, with one oar each, four on each side and a cox to steer the boat.

    Sculling Boats

    Name Symbol Description
    Single Scull 1x One rower, with two oars (or blades). The rower steers the boat themselves by changing the pressure they put on either blade in the water.
    Double Scull 2x Two rowers, with two oars each. The also steer the boat by varying the pressure on the oars in the water.
    Quad 4x Four rowers, with four oars each, with one of the rowers steering with their foot.

    Common Crew Terms


    Term Definition
    Backsplash This happens when a rower’s oar hits the water in a suboptimal manner and results in other rowers getting splashed. 
    Blade This is another term for an oar. 
    Bow This is the front of the boat. The bow is typically distinguished by the bow ball, which is the round object at the very end of the boat. 
    Catch The catch is the part of the rowing stroke where the rower’s oars are entering the water. 
    Coxswain The coxswain sits in a small seat facing the rowers and steers the shell and coaches the rowers during a race. They also are responsible for directing boats carried by the rowers from the trailer to the water. 
    Crab This term is used to describe when a rower’s oar blade gets caught in the water. In smaller boats, it can cause a rower to fall into the water. 
    Drive The drive is the part of the rowing stroke where the rower drives back with his/her legs and pulls the oar through the water. 
    Feathering This is a technique where the oar blade is turned parallel to the water to cut down on wind resistance. 
    Finish The finish is the part of the rowing stroke where the blade comes out of the water. 
    Footstretcher This is an adjustable bracket fitted with shoes used to secure a rower’s feet while rowing. 
    Oarlock The oar-lock is a u-shaped swivel that holds the oar in place. 
    Port This is the left side of the boat when facing the bow. 
    Power 10  This refers to going full power for ten strokes. 
    Stroke Rate This is the number of strokes taken per minute. 
    Rigger The riggers are the metal pieces jutting out from the sides of the boat that hold the oarlocks. 
    Shell This is another term for a rowing or sculling boat. 
    Starboard This is the right side of the boat when facing the bow. 
    Stern Stern is the back end of the boat (the end WITHOUT the bow ball)
    Way Enough This is a command used that essentially means “stop.” 

    Contact Us

    Interested in joining the Gryphon Crew? Have questions you need answered? Contact us via the form to the right, and one of our coaches or board members will get in touch with you soon!

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