THE ROWING STROKE

The Rowing Stroke
One complete cycle of the catch, drive, release, and recovery. The term Stroke is also the stern most rower in the boat who is responsible for setting the stroke rating and rhythm of the crew.

 

Catch 

The moment the blade enters the water and initiates the drive of each stroke.

 

Drive 

Portion of the stroke that propels the boat through the water. The drive starts at the catch and ends with the release. The main power from the drive is generated by the rower's legs pushing off the footstretchers.

 

Finish/Release 

The end of the drive when the rower removes the oar from the water and then feathers. Also called the release.

 

Recovery 

The portion of the stroke after the rower releases the oar from the water and returns to the catch position.

 

Square 

The act of rotating the oar prior to the catch so that the blade is perpendicular to the water. The opposite of the feathered position.

 

Feather 

The act of rotating the oar at the finish so that the oar's blade is parallel to the water during the recovery. The opposite of the squared position.

 

Pitch 

The angle between a squared blade and a line perpendicular to the water's surface. The standard pitch is around 4 degrees.

 

Backsplash 

The water thrown back toward bow by the oar's blade as it enters the water during the catch. A proper catch should throw a small amount of water.
 

Crab 

Occurs from a blade work error where a rower is unable to properly remove their oar from the water. A crab can slow down or even stop the boat. In extreme cases a crab can eject the rower from the shell.

 

Digging 

Rower error when the blade of the oar goes deeper in the water than it should, slowing the boat down.

 

Air Stroke 

A rower error where the oar's blade is not completely in the water. This results a complete lack of power and a lot of splashing.

Skying 

A rower error where the rower drops their hands just prior to the catch. This causes the blade to move higher off the water and will disrupt the set of the shell.

 

Missing Water 

A rower error where the rower begins the leg drive before the catch has completed.

 

Washing Out 

A rower error when an oar comes out of the water during the drive and creates surface wash. This results in a reduction in speed and can disrupt the set of the boat.
 

Split 

The amount of time it would take a rower or crew to complete 500 meters at their current pace. This can be applied to both a crew on the water or a person on an erg.

 

Rating/Stroke Rate 

The number of strokes per minute taken by a crew. During the body of the race a crew will maintain a rating in the mid to high 30's.

 

Ratio 

The relationship between the time taken between the drive and recovery portions of the stroke. A good ratio will have about twice as much time taken during the recovery as the drive.
 

Swing 

The feeling in the boat when all rowers are driving and finishing their strokes together.

 

Set 

Refers to the balance of the boat. An unset boat will lean to either port or starboard.

 

Settle 

Refers to a down shift in stroke rate after the start of a sprint race. Crews use the settle to get to their base stroke rating they will row the body of the race.

 

Run 

The distance the shell moves during one stroke. This can be seen by looking at the distance between the puddles made by the same oar.
 

Rush 

A rower error where the rower moves toward the stern during the recovery before the rest of the crew. This increases the amount of check during each stroke.

 

Check 

The reverse momentum resulting from the crews’ body weight moving toward stern during the recovery. Check is unavoidable but can be minimized through proper technique for optimal speed.