Emily Nesbitt

Rowing, also called crew, is the oldest collegiate sport. Crew involves moving long boats swiftly across water with oars. Rowing can be enjoyed competitively or recreationally. With many different boats to race, the competitions are fierce and strenuous. Rowing competitions are called “regattas.” Hundreds of people and boats will meet for 1-2 day long competitions filled with food, sleep, and teamwork.

Rowing dates back to ancient Egyptian times. The first recorded races were in 1827 at The University of Cambridge. This sport attracted many, and in 1843 Yale University founded the first American crew team. Today, 150 countries now have rowing federations that participate in the sport.

There are different races for rowers to compete in. With 2 competing seasons, fall and spring, rowers train year-round to perfect their erg times and technique in the boat. The fall season is for 5,000-meter races which require strength and endurance. Spring season consists of 2,000-meter sprints. Teams test their athletes on a rowing machine called an ergometer referred to as an “erg” or “ergo”. Rowing rankings are separated between novice and varsity. Novice only compete against novice and vice versa. Teams can submit multiple boats into one race, but the superior boat is referred to as the A boat. The less competitive boat is referred to as the B boat.

There are many different styles and types of boat you can race. The largest boat is called an “eight.” An eight is 60-62 feet long and 200 pounds, eight people row and one person will cox the boat. A coxswain, commonly called a cox, motivates and steers the boat. This person is usually short and thin as they don’t row and are essentially dead weight. However, They play a vital role in the crew’s success. All boats in rowing are separated in the middle between bow and stern. Facing the stern, there are two sides of the boat. The right side is port, and the left is starboard. There are two types of rowing shells, schull and sweep; schulling has two oars and sweep has one. In a sweep hull, a rower will strap their feet into a “footplate” and the seat slides back and forth. Both hands will be placed on the oar and they will slide up to the “catch.” When they slide back and pull the oar into their chest, they have taken a stroke. Contrary to popular belief, rowers have stronger leg muscles than arm muscles because the stroke is 80% leg strength.

Rowing is a complex sport with lots of terminologies that can be difficult to understand. Some of these terms are “catching a crab” (getting your oar stuck in water), “weigh nuff/weigh enough” (stop rowing), and “power 10” (ten hard strokes). Rowing is an amazing sport all ages can enjoy. Rowing is one of the hardest sports, but the hard work and dedication pay off. The friends you make and lessons you will learn will shape you as a person and change your life.