15 June 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to rowing

July 2, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to rowing

In total, rowing has earned Britain 22 gold medals, 18 silvers and eight bronzes with the legendary Sir Steve Redgrave winning gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games.

One of the great things about rowing is that you don’t have to be super skilled as there is predominantly one simple sequence of movement in which to learn and master.

The sport does, however, demand immense strength and stamina as well as great teamwork in order to get the most speed and distance out of every perfected stroke.

Venue: Eton Dorney

Date: July 28 – August 4 (reserve day August 5)

Jargon buster

Bow-side: The starboard side of the boat, ie the right-hand side of a cox facing forwards, and the left-hand side of a rower facing backwards.

Catch a crab: To make a faulty stroke.

Coxswain: The coxswain, or cox, typically sits at the stern and is responsible for steering the boat and directing the crew.

Lightweight: In women’s lightweight events, no rower may weigh more than 59kg, with an average weight per crew member not exceeding 57kg. For men, the single-rower maximum is 72.5kg, and the maximum crew member average shall not exceed 70kg.

Repechage: Race that takes place after the heats for those who didn’t qualify. It is a second chance to make it to the finals.

Scull: To row with two oars, one in each hand.

Sweep: To row with one oar.

Basic rules

The boats, also known as shells, race in six lanes along a 2,000m flat-water course, and the first one across the line wins.

There are two types of Olympic rowing, both with heavyweight and lightweight divisions.

One type is the sweep, where rowers use a single oar and compete in crews of two, four or eight.

The other type is sculling where the rowers use two oars and either compete alone, in pairs or in crews of four.

The various crews compete first in heats, with the best boats going through to the next round.

The best boats eventually progress through the various stages and into the finals of each event, which decide the final medallists.

One to watch

Katherine Grainger who will partner Anna Watkins (pictured) in the women’s double scull. As Britain’s most successful female rower, Katherine has won Olympic silver medals from Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, as well as four World Championships titles.

Olympic rivalry?

Georgina Evers-Swindell and Caroline Evers-Swindell of New Zealand will be tough competition for Katherine and Anna.

They are identical twin sisters who have won seven World Championships medals (three gold, three silver and one bronze) as well as being twice Olympic gold medallists claiming first place in Athens and Beijing.

Who’s the gold medal favourite?

The New Zealand pair are bound to be favourites but with Katherine Grainger’s experience and track record, her and Anna Watkins are sure to be fierce contenders.

Who to follow on twitter…



Rowing Olympic fact

Rowing is the only sport where competitors cross the finish line backwards.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

Photo credit: Images/GB Rowing Team

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Select a sport

Find out how to get started, training plans and expert advice.