Rules of Rowing | How it is Played?

Rowing is one of the most famous water sports in the USA. Sometimes, also referred to as crew, it involves wooden paddle, also known as an oar which is used to propel a long boat through water at high speeds in order to win the race.

The sport of Rowing dates back to ancient Egptian times when there were no such means of travelling by air and long journeys on boat were common.

Rules of Rowing

The game became popular in the 1800s when Oxford and Cambridge university organised a competitive rowing race in 1828, and even today, both the educational facilities compete against each other. The popularity of the game can be determined by the fact that it has been part of the Olympics since the very first Olympics game. The game requires tough physical fitness but still it is equally popular among women.

The first female Rowing competition was held in 1976. Since the early days of the game, it is dominated by the USA, with more than 80 gold medals to its name won by its athletes in the Olympics. Germany and Great Britain have also shown great interest in the game and the former two comes second and third respectively after the USA in terms of popularity and dominance in Olympics.

Object of the Game

In simple words, we can call Rowing a boat race. The boat that reaches the finishing line first is declared winner. It sounds easy but in reality, you have to put a significant amount of force in paddling and stamina is required to make it to the finish line.

How to Play?

Rowing is a water sport in which you have to paddle the boat in the racing course in such a way you don’t cause any impediment in your opponents’ way. The first to reach the finish line is declared the winner. Rowing is played in small rivers, so water is usually still which makes paddling easy.

But there are some rules which dictate when you can be disqualified from the race and what boats you are allowed to use for the race. Make sure you read till the end to prepare for professional Rowing events accordingly.

General Rules of Rowing

  • You can start paddling the boat after the gun fire.
  • In case of early paddling, it’d be considered as a false start.
  • For 2 false starts, you can be disqualified from the game.
  • In big races like the Olympics, up to 6 boats can participate in a race. Each boat has its own lane, however, boats can change lanes but in such a way they are not impeding their opponent from going past them.
  • The boat that finishes 1st gets a gold medal, the boat that finishes 2nd gets silver while the 3rd one gets a bronze medal in the Olympics.

Time Duration of Rowing

There is no time limit. How long a race is going to last depends upon the distance to be covered. However, in general, a Rowing game finishes in less than 10 minutes.

Playing Field

It’s a water sport and most of the Rowing races take place in small rivers.

Playing Equipment

Although it may sound simple that all you need for a game of Rowing is a boat with oars. But they are no ordinary boats. The oars are also made up of different materials. Let’s have a good look at the equipment required for Rowing.

Rowing Boat: These boats are long, narrow and broadly semi-circular in cross section. In this way, they required a minimum drag to get the boat moving. These boats usually have a fin towards the rear which helps them to prevent roll and yaw and increases the effectiveness of the rudder.

Oars: There are specifications about the weight and size of the oars. Perhaps because the rower would make it difficult for himself to push his boat with a heavier oar, so it’s been left totally up to him what size and weight he choses. These oars have a long, thin body with a thick paddle-like moulding at the end.

Types of Races

There are several types of Rowing races that take place in the Olympics. Here are their names:

Single Scull: One athlete sits in a scull boat with two oars in each hand.

Double Scull: Two athletes sit in a scull boat and both have oars in both hands.

Quadruple Scull: 4 athletes sit in a scull boat and have oars in both hands.

Coxless Pairs: Two athletes sit in a boat that has no coxswain (a person who sits in the stern and facilitates steering). Each athlete has an oar in one of his hands, except the facilitator.

Coxed Pairs: Three athletes in a boat with a coxswain present. Except the coxswain, they have an oar in both hands.
Coxless Fours: Four athletes in a boat with an oar in one hand each.

Coxed Fours: Five athletes in a boat with one of them facilitating the steering in the stern. Except the facilitator, all have an oar in one hand each.

Eights: Nine people in a boat with one of them facilitating the steering and 8 of them have an oar in one hand.

Role of Referee

A referee is considered to be an important part of a Rowing game. Their job is to ensure that all Rowers comply with the rules of the games, no false starts, no obstruction during the race and also, they maintain order in the game. Without a referee, a rowing game would be impossible to supervise.

Famous Rowing Tournaments

Rowing is popular in the USA, Britain, Germany and a few other European countries. Olympics and World Rowing Championships are one of the famous and biggest Rowing tournaments in which teams representing different nations participate in the game.

Both the Olympics and World Cup have separate matches for men and women and world champions are chosen separately from both genders.

Other than these international tournaments, Rowing tournaments are common in England and USA at national level.

Governing Body

The World Rowing Federation, also known as FISA (French: Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron) or World Rowing, is the governing body of the game whose job is to cater international level events and make changes in the rules of the game, if required.

The federation was founded by rowing representatives from France, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy on 25 June 1892.