Sports & Utility
Boats Program (SUB)
By Becky Molina,
The American Canoe Association
The broad part at the end of a paddle.
forward end of a canoe or kayak.
The bottom shape of a boat, which determines how it will perform in various conditions. Canoes have a
hull only; kayaks have a hull on the bottom and a deck on top.
Personal flotation device, or lifejacket. In the U.S., PFDs must be approved by the Coast Guard. A PFD must be
carried for each person in every boat of any kind. Wear it!
- Port : The left side of the boat when facing the bow (stroke
side in the UK and Ireland).
long skinny part of a canoe or kayak paddle.
- Starboard: The right side of the shell when facing the bow (bow
side in the UK and Ireland).
rear end of a canoe or kayak.
To fill (a boat) with water.
The bow-to-stern leveling of a canoe or kayak that affects boat control. In most cases it should be nearly
level, with the stern slightly lower in the water.
Grip: The part of a canoe paddle above the shaft, where the upper hand grips the
paddle. Grips can be shaped like a “T” or like a pear or a small football.
Usually made of wood, vinyl
or aluminum, gunwales (pronounced “gunnels”) run along the top edge of a canoe
hull, stiffening and helping the hull hold its shape.
Painter: A rope tied to either end of a canoe for rescue and anchoring to shore.
To carry a canoe over land (or the trail you carry it over) to get from one waterway to another or avoid a rapid.
Thwart: Cross pieces in a canoe, thwarts go from gunwale to gunwale and help the boat
hold its shape. Seats can function as thwarts and some thwarts are appropriately
spaced and constructed for kneeling on the bottom of the canoe.
(back rest) Provides support for the lower back while kayaking and helps with
erect posture in the boat. Located behind the seat, and usually made of padded
fabric, plastic or foam.
A cross-sectional wall
inside a kayak made of composite, plastic or foam. Bulkheads provide structural
support and cross-sectional bulkheads create watertight compartments for
buoyancy and storage.
The rim of the cockpit.
The enclosed central compartment of a kayak, in which the paddler sits.
The top part of a kayak that keeps the hull from filling with water.
(also known as foot braces) Adjustable structures inside the cockpit on which
kayakers place the balls of their feet.
The technique of
righting a capsized kayak while still inside.
(SOT) A kayak without a cockpit, sit-on-tops are usually
self-bailing with various seat and foot brace configurations. Many are for
recreational use, but some are designed for touring and racing.
A neoprene or nylon skirt worn by a kayaker that attaches to the rim
(coaming) of the cockpit to keep water out.
(or Knee) Braces usually found in whitewater and touring kayaks, these
structures inside the cockpit give the paddler important points of contact for
Coming out of a capsized kayak
- The wide flat section of the oar at the head of the
shaft, also known as the spoon. This term is often used when referring to
the entire oar.
- Bucket rigging
- The rigging of an eight or a four so that riggers 2
and 3 are on the same side.
- Any abrupt deceleration of the shell caused by some
uncontrolled motion within the shell; an interruption in the forward motion
of the shell. The coxswain is probably the most acutely aware of this abrupt
deceleration and it has been known to cause whiplash in some extreme cases.
- The person who steers the shell and urges the rowers
on during practices and in a race. A knowledgeable coxswain can also serve
as a coach for the rowers and can be the difference between winning and
losing a race.
- A problem encountered by a rower when his or her oar
gets `stuck' in the water, usually right after the catch or just before the
release, and is caused by improper squaring or feathering. The momentum of
the shell can overcome the rower's control of the oar. In more extreme cases
the rower can actually be ejected from the shell by the oar.
- Frig rigging
- See Tandem Rigging.
- Hatchets (a.k.a. big blades or choppers or
- A relatively new design of oar blades (although the
idea has been around for some time). These were introduced by Concept II
(Spring 1992) and are what the names indicate---oar blades that have a
bigger surface area than the `standard' (Macon) blades and have a hatchet or
meat cleaver shape. The hatchets are a bit shorter (by about 7 cm) than the
- This term is used interchangeably when referring to
one of the oars used in a sculling shell, the shell itself or to the act of
rowing a sculling shell.
- Foot Stretcher (or bootstretchers)
- An adjustable bracket in a shell to which the rower's
feet are secured in some sort of shoe or clog.
- The sliding seat that the rower sits on. The term
"seat" also refers to the rowers place in the boat; the convention is to
number the seats from bow to stern, i.e. the rower closest to the front of
the boat is "1-seat" the next, "2-seat", et c. The 1-seat is also commonly
referred to as "bowseat" or just "bow" while the stern most (rear) seat is
referred to as "stroke seat" or just "stroke".
- The Stroke
- The rower sitting nearest the stern (and the
coxswain, if there is one). The stroke is responsible for setting the stroke
length and cadence (with the coxswain's gentle advice).
- Rigger (or outrigger)
- The device that connects the oarlock to the shell and
is bolted to the body of the shell. On sweep boats, riggers are typically
alternating from side to the other on adjacent seats, but it is not uncommon
to see two adjacent riggers on the same side. This is referred to as "tandem
rigging". Varieties include "bucket rigging", "German Rigging" and "Italian
- Oarlock (or rowlock)
- A U-shaped swivel which holds the oar in
place. It's mounted at the end of the rigger and rotates around a metal pin.
A gate closes across the top to keep the oar in.
- Button (or collar)
- A plastic or metal fitting tightened on the oar to
keep the oar from slipping through the oarlock.
- The angle between the blade (on the drive when the
blade is `squared') and a line perpendicular to the water's surface.
- Slide (or track)
- The track on which the seat moves.
- German rigging
- The rigging of an eight so that riggers 4 and 5 are
on the same side while the others alternate.
- Gunwale (or gunnel, saxboard)
- Top section on the sides of a shell which runs along
the sides of the crew section where the rowers are located. The riggers are
secured to the gunwale with bolts.
- Italian rigging
- The rigging of an eight so that bow and stroke
riggers are on the same side, with the others alternating in pairs.
- Jumping the slide
- Another problem encountered by a rower when the seat
becomes derailed from the track during the rowing cycle.
- Technically, the structural member running the length
of the boat at the bottom of the hull. Today, some shells are built without
this member so the term often refers to the center line of the shell.
- Missing water
- The rower starts the drive before the catch has been
completed (or even started in some
cases). This is also referred to as rowing into the catch.
- Steering device at the stern. The rudder in turn is
connected to some cables (tiller ropes) that the coxswain can use to steer
the shell. Older shells have short wooden handles (knockers) on the tiller
ropes. These knockers are used by the coxswain not only to steer the shell,
but also to rap out the cadence of the stroke rate on the gunwale.
- Skeg (or Fin)
- A small fin located along the stern section of the
hull. This helps to stabilize the shell in holding a true course when
rowing. All racing shells have a skeg. The skeg should not be confused with
- Tandem rigging
- Variations of rigging of sweep boats with adjacent
riggers being on the same side of the boat. Also known as Frig rigging (UK).
See below (the rigging terms below are the subject of debate as to exactly
what configuration they refer to, and they are often used interchangeably).
- The number of strokes per minute. Also known as
- The ratio of the recovery time to the drive time. The
recovery time should always be longer than the drive time (how much longer I
won't say ... as someone wrote, the idea is to `move the boat on the pull
through (or drive) and take a ride (i.e. relax) on the recovery without
sacrificing the very speed that they have generated').
- The adjustment and alteration of accessories
(riggers, foot-stretchers, oar, etc.) in and on the shell. Examples of
rigging adjustments that can be made are the height of the rigger, location
of the foot-stretchers, location and height of the oarlocks, location of the
button (or collar) on the oar and the pitch of the blade of the oar.
- Set (set of a boat)
- The definition that I think comes closest to what
rowers mean by the set of a boat is `form or carriage of the body or of its
parts'. In this case the `body' consists of the shell and the rowers. Items
that can affect the set of the boat are the rower's posture, hand levels,
rigging (the favorite culprit ... especially with the more advanced rowers),
timing at the catch and release, and outside conditions such as the wind. It
is not unusual for rowers within a shell not to agree on what needs to be
done to establish a `good' set, i.e. a level, stable shell that will provide
the basis for that symphony of motion.
- The fault of carrying the hands too low during the
recovery especially when a rower dips his or her hands just prior to the
catch (i.e. a sort of winding up). This usually results in the blade being
too high off the water's surface.
- Slings (or boat slings, or trestles)
- Collapsible/portable frames with straps upon which a
shell can be placed temporarily.
- Washing out
- The fault of rowing the oar out of the water, i.e.
the blade comes out of the water before the drive is finished.
Rowing Cycle Terms:
Starting with the rower at `rest' and legs fully
extended with the oar blades immersed in the water perpendicular (well ...
almost) to the water's surface.
- A sharp downward (and away) motion of the hand which
serves to remove the oar blade from the water and start the rowing cycle.
- The act of turning the oar blade from a position
perpendicular to the surface of the water to a position parallel to the
water. This is done in conjunction with the release.
- Part of the rowing cycle from the release up to and
including where the oar blade enters the water.
- A gradual rolling of the oar blade from a position
parallel to the water to a position (almost) perpendicular to the surface of
the water. This is accomplished during the recovery portion of the rowing
cycle and is done in preparation for the catch.
- The point of the rowing cycle at which the blade
enters the water at the end of the recovery and is accomplished by an upward
motion of the arms and hands only. The blade of the oar must be fully
squared at the catch.
- That part of the rowing cycle when the rower applies
power to the oar. This is a more (or less) blended sequence of applying
power primarily with a leg drive, then the back and finally the arms.
- The last part of the drive before the release where
the power is mainly coming from the back and arms.
- The amount of backward lean of the rower's body at
the end of the finish. Now we start again with the release and ...
surface water sport in which the participant is propelled by a swimming
motion usually on a long
close to the shore.
A derivative of paddleboarding is
stand up paddle surfing.
Paddleboarding can be done on various pieces of equipment,
including surfboards. Paddleboards are made of fiberglass and epoxy and are
generally quite large (often up to 12 feet to 19 feet long). Most modern
paddleboards are made of polyurethane foam (with one or more wooden strips or
"stringers"), fiberglass cloth, and polyester resin. An emerging paddleboard
technology is an epoxy
which are stronger and lighter than traditional fiberglass. Cost of new boards
range from $1,500 to $3,000 for custom boards. Used boards that have been well
kept are in high demand and can be sold fairly easily on paddleboard listing web
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
is committed to reminding all recreational boaters to:
SMART FROM THE START, WEAR YOUR PFD
- Vessel Examinations
Send email to DC-V
Division Chief - Vessel
email to DVC-VE
Branch Chief - Sports &
Utility Boats Program
email to BC-VES
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