Beginners Guide to Rowing
Henley Royal Regatta... The Race
Races are head-to-head knock out competitions, raced over a course of 1 mile, 550 yards (2,112 m).
The race begins at the downstream end of Temple Island, where the crews attach to a pair of pontoons. The race umpire will then call out the names of the two crews and start them when they are both straight and ready. Each crew is assigned to row on either the 'Bucks' (Buckinghamshire) or 'Berks' (Berkshire) side of the race course.
The most prestigious event at the regatta is the Grand Challenge Cup for Men's Eights, which has been awarded since the regatta was first staged.
The Two types of rowing - Sculling Vs Sweep:
- In sweep or sweep-oar rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This can be done in pairs, fours and eights. Each rower in a sweep boat is referred to either as port or starboard, depending on which side of the boat the rower's oar extends to. Usually the port side is referred to as stroke side, and the starboard side as bow side; this applies even if the stroke oarsman is rowing on bow side and/or the bow oarsman on stroke side.
- In sculling each rower has two oars (or sculls), one in each hand. Sculling is usually done without a coxswain, in quads, doubles or singles. The oar in the sculler's right hand extends to port (stroke side), and the oar in the left hand extends to starboard (bow side).
Racing boats (often called shells) are long, narrow, and broadly semi-circular in cross-section in order to reduce drag to a minimum. There is some trade off between boat speed and stability in choice of hull shape. They usually have a fin towards the rear, to help prevent roll and yaw and to increase the effectiveness of the rudder.
Originally made from wood, shells are now almost always made from a composite material (usually a double skin of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic with a sandwich of honeycomb material) for strength and weight advantages.
There are several different types of boats. They are classified using:
- Number of rowers. In all forms of modern competition the number is either 1, 2, 4, or 8.
Position of coxswain (also referred to as cox). Boats are either coxless (straight), bow-coxed (also called bowloaders), or stern-coxed.
Although sculling and sweep boats are generally identical to each other (except having different riggers), they are referred to using different names:
- Sweep: coxless pair (or straight pair) (2-), coxed pair (2+), Coxless four (or straight four) (4-), coxed four (4+), eight (8+) (always coxed)
- Sculling: single scull (1x), double scull (2x), quad (or quadruple) scull (4x), octuple scull (8x) (always coxed, and mainly for juniors and exhibition)
A stroke consists of four components that have to be completed perfectly to propel the boat forward as fast as possible.
- Catch: The rower drops the oar into the water coiled forward with their arms at full stretch.
- Drive: The legs power the seat back as the rower uncoils, drawing the oar against the water as the legs stretch fully out.
- Finish: The rower lifts the oar out of the water and rolls it to a horizontal position so it slices through the air aerodynamically in the final component of the stroke.
- Recovery: The rower slides forward back into the coiled position, arms outstretched, ready for the catch once more.
The ability to synchronise these strokes as perfectly as possible is the key in achieving maximum speed.
The more crew members, the faster the boat. A crew of eight will average around 40 to 44 strokes per minute, while a single will manage 36 to 40 at the start of a race.
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