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Terminology Solutions

Following are terms you may happen upon in your rigging: 

Adjustment: moving the dimensions on rowing equipment to best suit the needs of the rower(s)

Aft: towards the stern or the back of a boat

Back stop: small blocks on the fore part of the slide that prevent seat assembly from rolling off the slide

Beam: width at the widest part of a boat, usually measured from inside of gunwales

Blade: end of an oar that is placed in the water

Bow: front end of a boat

Button: a ring around the shaft of an oar; when the oar is in the oarlock, the button sits flush against the oarlock and keeps the oar from sliding outward

Carbon fiber: whiz-bang space-age material used in shells, a lot like fiberglass except it’s made with carbon pieces

Catch: part of the rowing stroke where blade is placed into water

Catch angle: angle between oar handle and oarlock perpendicular when the oar is at the catch

Catch length: distance along centerline between the oarlock perpendicular and farthest extent of oar handle when the oar is at the catch

Centerline: a very important yet imaginary line that bisects a shell from the bow to stern

Check: (a) ding or dent in the hull of a boat; (b) backwards motion of shell caused by rowers transferring their body mass aft to fore

Collar: see button

Cord Length: a distance, in a straight line, between two ends of an arch. Used in rowing when discussing the length between the catch and the finish.

Degree: an angular measurement used to determine the pitch

Designed water line: depth of the hull to which the builder designed the boat to sit in the water when the proper weight is in the boat

Dimension: (a) number used for rigging adjustments; (b) a label for your level of knowledge

Drive: part of rowing stroke from catch to release when oar is in water

Eight: shell with eight rowers and one coxswain

Fastener: nuts, bolts, and all the other little goodies that hold the rowing equipment together

Fin: piece that extends from hull, below water line, used for longitudinal stability, usually located near rudder

Foot stretcher: part of shell that accommodates rower’s feet

Fore: towards the bow or front of a boat

Four: shell with four rowers and a coxswain (called four with) or shell with four rowers and no coxswain (called four without or straight four)

Front stops: small blocks on aft part of slide, keep seat from derailing and protect rowers’ legs from sharp end of slide

Gunwale: top part of hull (when boat is seats-up) where the riggers attach; may or may not be made of same material as rest of hull

Height: distance from the oarlock sill (horizontal flat) to the water’s surface, usually measured from sill to top of seat

Horizontal flat: one of the flat parts of the oarlock that supports the oar, important for oarlock height

Hull: part of the boat that keeps the inside in and the outside out

Inboard: distance from butt of oar handle to the blade side of the button

Inter-axle distance: see spread

Keel: one of the main parts of the shell structure, runs from bow to stern along inside of bottom of the boat following the centerline

Knee: bracing that runs vertically from the keel to the gunwale

Knuckle: joint of a rigger where pieces meet

Lateral pitch: see outward pitch

Leverage: the mechanical advantage of a lever—in our case, the oar and rigger

Loom: part of oar from the oar handle to the beginning of the blade

Metric System: measuring system based on quadrants of earth used by most of the world

Monocoque: type of bracing system inside a shell that uses a flat deck that runs the length of the shell

Oar handle: part of oar rower holds during stroke

Oar: long, skinny thing used to propel boats; different from a paddle be-cause oars are attached to the boat and paddles are not

Oops, mistake, error, goof-up, uh oh: part of the learning process

Outboard: distance from the blade side of button to tip of the blade

Outward pitch: slight slant on oarlock pin away from centerline of shell

Pair: shell with two rowers and a coxswain (called a pair with) or shell with two rowers and no coxswain (called a pair without or straight pair)

Perpendicular: another very important, and imaginary, line that extends 90 degrees from the centerline

Pin: part of rigger on which oarlock rotates

Port: left side of boat when looking towards the bow

Puddle: depression in the water left after blade is removed; the harder the oar is pulled, the bigger the puddle, assuming good rowing is happen-ing

Rack: support used to store boat in a seats-down position

Recovery: part of rowing stroke from the release to the catch, blade is out of water

Release: part of stroke where blade is removed from the water

Rib: see knee

Rig: the arrangements of riggers on the boat, a German-rigged eight has 2 rowers (at 4 and 5) on the same side, an Italian-rigged eight has all the rowers on the same side in pairs, except the bow and stroke

Rigger: (with capital r) person who adjusts the mechanics of the boats to suit the needs of the rowers

rigger: (with small r) funky metal thing hanging off of the shell, officially called an outrigger, but that has been shortened to rigger

Rigging: the science/art of adjusting rowing equipment in such a manner that an oarsman will be in a comfortable and effective position to ap-ply power

Rudder: part of hull extending below water line and used to steer boat

Seat assembly: all the seat parts

Seat: part of seat assembly rower sits on

Shaft: see loom

Shell category: the size of shell determined by number of people it holds

Shell weight classification: average of crew’s weight the shell is designed to hold, usually divided into three categories: heavyweight, mid-weight and lightweight; now classifications for women-specific sizes are being made

Shell: name used for racing boats powered by rowers, came about be-cause early shells were made with thin hulls and were literally as fragile as an egg shell

Silicon: waterproof lubricant

Sill: platform that gives support

Skeg: see fin

Sleeve flat: the flat part of the sleeve, critical to the pitch

Sleeve: tube of material that surrounds oar, under the button, that protects the loom from damage

Slide: piece of shell on which seat assembly rolls

Sling: support used to store boat in a seats-up position

Slippage: amount of motion of blade in the water from a “locked” posi-tion

Span: distance from the center of one sculling oarlock pin to the center of another at the same position

Spread: shortest distance from the centerline of the shell to the center of the oarlock pin

Starboard: the right side of a boat when facing the bow

Stateroom: distance inside of hull from one foot stretcher to anothe

Stay: part of rigger used for support and strength

Stern pitch: aft slant on blade when oar is square in the water

Stringer: a horizontal brace

Stroke: one complete cycle of the oar from the catch to the release and back to the catch agai

Thwartship distance: see spread

Track: see slide

Tracking: (a) refers to the course of a shell through the water, (b) how straight somethings goes

U.S. Customary System: measurement system based on parts of human body, used by only a few countries in the world

Undercarriage: the lower part of a seat that allows it to move, includes the wheels, axles, etc.

Vertical flat: vertical part of the oarlock that is flat and about parallel to the oarlock pin, critical to the pitch

Washout: problem with rowing stroke where the blade slips too much through water and causes an inefficient stroke

Work-thru: distance from perpendicular through the oarlock pin to a per-pendicular across the front-stops of the slide