Rowing Lingo

From the Boathouse

Managing to get a 220 lb. fragile and expensive shell from the boathouse to the dock can be intimidating. The key to success, like so many other rowing functions, is listening to the commands of the coxswain, and when required, doing it as a crew ... in unison.

Depending on the exact location of the shell in the boathouse, (i.e. on rollers on the floor, on the first, second, or third rack) the object is to remove the shell and carry it to the dock and successfully place it in the water.

The first command is, lay hold or sometimes, hands-on. This means to place your hands on the boat, usually the gunnels or sides of the boat, and wait for the next command, which is ready to lift (slight pause) and lift. Sometimes the cox'n (or bow person in sculling boats) will say, up an inch, ready (pause) up. This is to indicate that the boat is lifted only slightly off the rack so not to hit the boat above it. It is important that this, as well as other motions regarding handling the boat, be done together.

The cox'n then says, off the rack, meaning move the boat off the rack. The next set of commands depend on where the boat came from, for example, if the boat came out of a shoulder level rack, the cox'n will say ready up over head (pause) and up followed by ready down to shoulders (pause) and down. Sometimes the cox'n will remind the crew to lower the boat to shoulders opposite your rigger. This is to remind the crew to look up at the riggers and be certain to lower the boat opposite the rigger - on the other side of the boat - and not on the same side of the rigger (thereupon bopping oneself on the head)!

If the boat is on a lower rack, before the boat can be raised over head and lowered to shoulders, it may be necessary for the crew to divide alternately ... that is, since the crew is all on one side of the boat, half of the crew (every other person) goes under the boat up to the other side. Once this is done first time it will be easier to understand.

When the boat is on the shoulders, the cox'n will say walk it forward. Moving from the boathouse to the dock is relatively straightforward..., which by the way is how the boat should be carried. Remember, you are carrying 60 feet of something that doesn't bend in the middle, hence keeping it straight until the rear section has cleared the boathouse door is important before making a wide turn. Also, since the riggers protrude at least a couple feet beyond the gunnel of the boat, it is important to make certain that you don't accidentally hook them on anything. Generally, we say that you are responsible for the rigger that is directly in front of you.

All boats launch from the Licking River boathouse with the bow pointing downstream (toward the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati). Once the ENTIRE shell is out of the boathouse, the cox'n will say swing the bow toward the river. The rowers in the bow end of the boat step sideways toward the river while the rowers in the stern end stand still, watching the stern to prevent collisions with any vehicles. As the boat lines up with the path, the cox'n will say walk it down.

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Sculling and Sweep Rowing
The Equipment
The Stroke
The Race
Rowing Terms
Rowing Lingo
Race Watching Tips
Top 10 List

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From the boathouse
From the dock
Preparing to get off the dock
From the water
The Set