Sport Spotlight: Rowing

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Overview and History
Rowing is an Olympic sport practiced all around the world. Sometimes called crew in the United States, rowing began in ancient Egypt. The premise of the sport is to propel the boat forward in the water using oars for recreational or completive purposes. In the U.S., rowing competitions are referred to as regattas where boats race each other for time. Boat sizes range from a single scull that holds one person to a coxswain that holds eight people.

Rules and Regulations
The world championship race is 2,000 meters long and has elements of both a long and short distance race. Rowing is unique in its motion from other sports in that it compresses the athletes’ lungs making it difficult for them to get the oxygen they need. Because of this, rowers need to focus on their breathing techniques, which sometimes involves breathing in and out twice every stroke. Boats with more than one person number the rowers from the bow to stern starting with the person at the bow. The person seated at the bow is called the bowman/bow and the person seated closest to the stern is referred to as the strokeman/stroke. The rowers in the middle of the boat are less technical but more powerful, while the rowers on each end are more technical and set up the balance of the boat. The cox is another position on the crew, but it involves steering instead of rowing; they coordinate the power and the rhythm of the rowers. The cox is usually seated in the stern of the boat and must be lightweight since they are not helping to row.

Types
There are a variety of different types of races organized based on speeds and distances. Side-by-side racing is a sprint race between two and six boats usually of 2,000 meters, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins. Head races are time trial and processional races where boats begin the race at intervals of 10-20 seconds and then are timed over set distances. The course of a head race can vary in length but usually ranges from 2,000-12,000 meters. Bump races have a physical contact component to them since the boats are lined up single file at set intervals and attempt to bump the boat ahead of them while avoiding the crew behind them. These races are multi-day and crews are awarded bumps for each contact made with other boats; the team that has been bumped the least starts in front the next day. Stake races include a stake or a buoy that the rowers must race to, and then they turn around and race back to where they started from. The 180-degree turn that the rowers must make at the stake takes high skill and a mastery of rowing.

Minnesota Resources and How to Get Involved
Minnesota offers many rowing opportunities whether it is at a competitive or recreational level. The Duluth Rowing Club, the Minnesota Boat club, and the Minneapolis Rowing club are all available in the warm months. Public and private high schools around Minnesota are also taking advantage of Minnesota’s lakes with their own rowing teams. Minnesota’s first rowing club is still around today and claims to be the state’s oldest athletic organization. With so many course options and a long state history, rowing is quickly gaining popularity in the land of over 10,000 lakes.

Carly Jacobsen

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