Rowing Dictionary

The sport of rowing has it’s own traditional, nautical terminology. Here are some words you’re likely to hear:

  • Coxswain (pronounced “coxin,” or “cox”)
    • The coxswain is responsible for steering the boat and ensuring that it stays on course. They also communicate with the rowers, motivating them and setting the stroke rate. In addition to these duties, the coxswain plays a key role in race strategy, deciding when and how to make moves in order to win the race. They sit in the stern or bow of the boat depending on the style of shell being used. While coxswains are often the smallest members of the team, they are an integral part of the crew and can be just as competitive and driven as the other rowers.
  • Cox Box
    • A small, waterproof box that allows the coxswain to communicate with the rowers and to give them cues and instructions during the race. The Cox Box also has a timer and a stroke rate meter, which allows the coxswain to monitor the speed and rhythm of the rowers.
  • Crab
    • To “catch a crab” in rowing means to make a mistake while rowing, often by catching the oar blade on the water or on the boat itself. This can cause the oar to stop moving and can disrupt the rhythm and timing of the rowers. Catching a crab can also cause the oar handle to be yanked out of the rower’s hand. In a race, catching a crab can also cause the boat to slow down or even stop, which can be detrimental to the team’s performance.
  • Ergometer (ERG)
    • An ergometer, also known as an ERG, is a machine used to simulate the motion of rowing on water. Ergometers are often used for training and conditioning in rowing, as well as for testing and measuring the physical fitness and performance of rowers.