Rowing 101

What's the difference between a 'four with', a 'straight four', and a 'quad'?

If that's a pair, then what is a double?










And what the heck am I supposed to wear?


Sweep Rowing vs Sculling

There are two types of boats (or shells) used in rowing, sweep boats and sculling boats.  In sweep rowing each rower has a single oar, so you must have other people in the boat with you. The most commonly used sweep boats are fours and eights. At Megunticook Rowing we have fours, so we need five people (four rowers and a coxswain) to fill the boat.  Sweep rowing is a team undertaking; you are surrounded by other people, all working in perfect sync to make the boat move fast. Sweep boats are steered by a coxswain, who sits facing forward.In sculling, the rower uses two smaller oars, or sculls.  Sculling boats have one, two, or four rowers. Sculling also has symmetry to it — two oars in two hands moving simultaneously. A two-person sculling boat is called a double and a four person sculling boat is called a quad. We have singles and doubles at Megunticook Rowing.


What to wear

The best clothing for rowing is soft, stretchy, breathable, and fairly form fitting. We at Megunticook Rowing like to call this techno-wear as it is usually made of synthetic fabrics or thin merino wool. The key is that your clothing is appropriate for the weather – even when you happen to get wet. Cotton is fine if the weather is hot, but in cool and/or cold weather, think layers of techno-wear.Do not wear loose shorts or sweats as they can get caught in the slides under the moving seats, so avoid basketball style shorts or warm-ups. Loose tops can get caught in the oar handles, so avoid bulky jackets or sweatshirts, especially those with non-zipping pockets or “kangaroo” pockets.

Socks: Some of our boats have shoes which are shared by all who use that boat. So bring your own socks!

Hat: Bring one. It will keep the sun off… and/or keep the heat in.

Sunglasses: Yes.

Full Water Bottle: Yes again – always a good idea to bring water.

Hands: When it gets cold out, you will not see rowers using traditional cold-weather gloves. Rowing requires a tactile feel of the oar handle.  If you are prone to especially cold hands, you can purchase “Pogies” from a rowing clothing website such as JL Racing. They fit over both the oar handle and your hands.


A bit more about rowing…

There is something magical about exercising on the water: The sounds, the sights, and the sensory experience.  Rowing draws you in like no other sport.Rowing is a sport that can be enjoyed throughout an entire lifetime.  It is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people, and improve physical fitness. Rowing exercises all the major muscle groups through the full range of motion, involves no jarring of the joints, and improves both strength and cardiovascular performance. Rowing attracts people who are looking for an enjoyable outdoor fitness activity as well as those looking for exciting competitive opportunities.

Rowers tend to be passionate about their sport. The sensation of being able to propel a boat at speed through the water under one’s own power is exhilarating. It requires teamwork and concentration so that one is almost oblivious to the physical exertion employed. Rowing is a sport that can be enjoyed by all. Here at Megunticook Rowing we teach ages 13 through ancient! As long as you can help to lift and carry the rowing shell, and are relatively fit, or determined to get that way, you can become proficient at this sport and enjoy it for a lifetime.

To many, rowing is more than a sport, as it also teaches lessons for life:

  • Teamwork and synchronicity, with others, from all backgrounds
  • The values of good sportsmanship and consideration for others
  • The rewards learned through hard work, focus, and self-discipline
  • Camaraderie and friendships – for life.
  • Rowing is decidedly character building, and moreover, it is simply fun!