The Committee

Aberdeen Boat Club is managed by a committee which is selected by members with voting rights.  During July each year an Annual General Meeting is held when voting members are elected and they, in turn select candidates for the following roles:

As of June 2019


Matthew Burnett


Jim Steel


Liz Dawson


Keith Saunders

Bar Manager

Bob Newton

Social Manager


Other Committee Members

Lee Garrett


Ian Duncan


Dan Davidson


Kathryn Falconer

Safety Officer (voted by the committee):

Peter Turner



Aberdeen Boat Club accepts those who are 18 years or older.

Experienced rowers are always welcome to apply for membership.  If a new member wishes to race at regattas he/she may be allocated within a crew or be placed in a squad; in consultation with the captain of boats.  If a new member wishes to row for the purposes of improving technique and general exercise then rowing in the Social Rowing group may be the preferred option.

Many of our members have learnt to row either via the Intercompany Row or during the Novice Nights.

Rowers who have been to the club via the Intercompany Row have temporary membership included until end of September, or the Aberdeen Sprints, whichever is the later.

During July and August we ask those wishing to try rowing to come to the Novice Nights which are held on Tuesday and Thursday nights, subject to the tide (in June we are too busy with Inter-Company crews to accept more new members).  Potential rowers are welcome to join us on the water for three sessions without charge or commitment. 

Between September and April we encourage potential rowers to try the sport via the Social Rowing group, which convenes on Sundays, either late morning or early Sunday afternoons, dependent on the tide.


The club year at ABC is 1 August to 31 July.

The membership costs of the club are listed on the ABC web-site

The categories are as follows:

Full rowing membership, with first year membership eligible for a 50% discount.

Those wishing to join from 1 April will be entitled to a further 50% discount for up to 4 months (1 April to 31 July).

Temporary membership is available to those not normally resident in Aberdeen at all times for a maximum period of not more than 2 months.


The Clubhouse


The clubhouse is on two levels and also has two expansive loft areas.

The ground floor consists of 4 boat bays, with 4 roller doors, two emergency exits and two doors to the rear lobby and internal stairs.  Behind the boat bays are the rear lobby and the beer store.

The rear lobby has another external door which can be used by members with a key outside of bar opening hours.  The beer store leads off the rear lobby and an internal staircase leads to the first floor level.  An external stairway and balcony leads to the main entrance via the bar and to a door leading into the gym.

The first floor consists of the gym (which is also used as a function room), exercise equipment. storage room, dry store, sluice room, men’s and women’s toilets, men’s and women’s changing rooms, office area and the bar.

Note that when the bar is closed, it is locked and alarmed and all initial and final access and egress is via the rear lobby door.

The Bar

The bar is open from:

Mon – Fri 1700 until no later than 2300;

Sat and Sun 1200 until no later than 2300.

For the first two hours of opening it is staffed by a paid barman.

For other periods club members are expected to operate the bar on a volunteer basis once a month, for either a 4hr evening or 3 hour weekend shift.  The volunteering reduces the payroll burden and assists in containing our membership fees.


The River Dee and Safe Navigation

Subject to the limitations noted below, we can row on the river Dee from the upstream side of the Victoria Bridge to Ruthrieston Burn.

Geographical Limits

The maximum limits of rowing within the Dee are defined as the upstream side of the Victoria Bridge to a point level with Ruthrieston Burn approx. 200m downstream from the Brig O’Dee at Garthdee.

There are three exceptions to these limits:

  1. The annual University boat race starts from stake boats on the downstream side of the Brig O’Dee, during which a safety boat is in attendance;
  2. A Head of the River race (HoR) commences by boats rowing under the Victoria bridge and turning in the harbour, with the timing commencing as the boats head back under the bridge.  During the HoR a safety boat is in attendance at all times;
  3. In an emergency a boat can navigate under the Victoria Bridge if it has become too unsafe to complete the turn to an upstream heading, either due to miscalculation or an incident;

If a boat has HAD to go into the harbour, it must return upstream of the bridge as swiftly and safely as possible.  Upon return to the club, an entry will be made on the Incident Reporting Form, available on the ABC website, explaining the reasons why the incursion took place and the captain will be advised as swiftly as possible.

Depth Limitations

The River Dee is tidal for the section we row within, which requires the timing of outings to coincide with sufficient depth of water.  The committee of the Dee publishes tide tables for the river Dee which are available on its web site (, which apart from showing the tidal heights, also show the times when rowing shall not occur.  Obviously, the tables show the predicted level of water and not the actual.  

At the Railway Bridge, if there are three rows of blocks or less showing on the piers the navigation is extended to the King George Bridge.

At the King George Bridge, if there is one block or less showing on the piers above the water, the navigation is extended to the Ruthrieston Burn.  You are not allowed to row past this point.

Weather Limitations

Outings may also be restricted or cancelled if the river conditions require it.  The problems can be caused or exacerbated by heavy rains in the Cairngorms, cold weather, poor visibility or high winds.

Ice – there will be no rowing if there is any risk of ice on the section of river you are rowing on.  Contact with ice can both damage the boat and cause injury if a blade lands on ice during the catch.

Wind – In conjunction with the wave conditions, strong winds can cause problems with steerage and flooding of the boat.  The decision to continue with an outing needs to be considered by the cox/steersperson after considering the experience of the crew and the ability to still perform constructive training with minimum compromise to safety.  Strong easterly winds and an ebb tide will cause high standing waves to form in the bottom section of the river.

Rowing at Night (or restricted visibility)

Rowing at night is defined as ‘an outing that finishes after the sunset time, or starts prior to the sunrise time, as noted in the tide tables contained in the boat booking file and published on the Committee of the Dee website.

Although the sunset times provide a guide as to when it gets dark (dark typically 20 min after sunset), there can be a notable variation if there is cloud cover/rain.  If you are not prepared for night rowing you should plan to be back at the club before the street lights illuminate.

All of the crew will be expected to wear white tops and there needs to be a steady white light at the bow of the boat and a steady red light on the stern.  The lights may be attached to the boat or the bow seat/steersperson/cox, as appropriate.  There is no exception or relaxation to the ‘Whites and Lights’ rule. 

Impaired Visibility Rowing - If there is fog and you cannot see more than 100 metres then do not row.  If the fog is coming in and it is probable that visibility will become less than 100m then return to the club immediately.  Remember, if there is a capsize or other incident, the rescuers will have problems finding you.

Night Coxes

All coxes and steerers must have attended the ABC Safety Induction, demonstrated capability in daylight and completed the Night Coxing / Steering Assessment.  Coxes with limited experience may be considered for Probationer status, allowing them to cox boats with experienced crew members.

Only coxes and steerers approved by any two of the Captain, President and Safety Officer, may take boats out after dark.

A full list of ABC members authorised to cox and/or steer at night will be posted on the ABC notice board and updated regularly.

There are different rules for coxless boats which are available on the ABC website.






The safety of all members is of paramount importance.  We have a duty to ourselves, other members and other riverside users to be aware of potential dangers and take heed of advice that may be given.

The name and contact details of the ABC Safety Officer is on the ABC website and is readily available to discuss any related issue.

We perform strenuous exercise on the water, which can be cold, with weather conditions which can be testing and there are dangers of navigation and handling of heavy equipment.

Many sections of this guide make specific reference to safety related issues and they should be considered seriously.

Should an accident or incident occur it should be recorded in the incident book.  Dependent on severity the reporting criteria detailed in the ABC website will be adhered to.  The safety Officer and Captain would rather hear about a ‘minor’ incident, so they may use their experience to determine if further discussion or mitigation measures are necessary.

When moving a 4 or 8 to and from the boat bays, it shall always be managed by the cox, or a person nominated as cox until the boat has been landed.

The bank above the steps can be slippery due to mud, or along with the steps icy during the winter.

The green anti erosion matting is also slippery when wet.

If you are feeling unwell, serious consideration should be given to postpone your outing and a substitute can be arranged.

Cold Water Immersion

Rowing is an outdoor sport on the water.  An obvious statement, but when brought into context of us being in northern Europe (Aberdeen is almost 60° north!), with cold river water which conducts the cold 30 times faster than air, then we need to consider many aspects carefully.

In the event of a capsize when the crew is not going to try to re-board the boat, the crew should free their feet and surface, holding on to the boat. The Crew should check that they have all surfaced. If not, a member may be trapped by her/his feet so she/ he should be assisted to free those. Then, staying in the water, the crew should hold on to the boat with one arm of each member and swim, pushing the boat either bow or stern first, to the nearest bank, selecting the direction according to whether the bow or stern is nearer the bank. Once ashore, the crew should abandon the boat and make its way to the Clubhouse quickly for treatment for cold water immersion.

To find out how to re-board a boat after a capsize, refer to the link to British Rowing's guide found under "Forms and Safety" as "capsize drill".

Thermal immersion suits are stored under the lockers in the lobby outside the ladies changing room.  Dry clothes are kept in a box in the lobby within the women’s changing room.

If a person is suspected of suffering from Hyperthermia the potential condition shall be taken seriously.  Do not be fobbed-off by the by the potential patients saying they are fine.  If they are alert but cold, accompany them to the changing room and stay with them until they have a shower in warm water (not hot) for at least 15 minutes.

Ensure they are given warm dry clothes and then a warm drinks.

If the patient is shivering badly, has slurred speech and/or semi-conscious, remove all of his or her clothing (excepting bra and pants) and quickly put him or her into a thermal immersion suit and call an ambulance.  Add additional warmth by having one or two people ‘hug’ the patient.



Coxing and Steering

We try to arrange two coxing courses per year for our members and we also welcome candidates from the two university clubs.

The coxing course consists of three main parts:

  1. Theory, consisting of an MS Power-point visual presentation with an emphasis on safety and crew motivation;
  2. Walking the River Dee at low tide with experienced members of ABC who can advise the best routes, currents and eddies to avoid and the local rules of navigation;
  3. ‘Bumps and Turns’. Trainee coxes will practise navigating a rowing boat under the guidance of an experienced rower/cox sitting either in the boat or within hailing distance from the bank.

Individual elements of the course may be taken on separate occasions and we encourage steering of the wooden boats in advance of the coxing course (under the tutorship as described above).

Coxes will then row with experienced crew until experience in varying conditions has been learnt.

There are no exceptions relating to rowing at night.  Only a Night Cox shall steer a boat during the hours of darkness.

Again, a night coxing course is normally held twice a year.

Note: Those members who are scullers do not need to attend the course, but when rowing in multiples (doubles, quads) we expect the steersperson to be a qualified cox.

Weight limits: Excepting the wooden boats we have a weight limit of 80Kg for coxes.




There are set rules for the approval of rowers to steer a coxless boat within ABC.  An experienced cox does not have an automatic right to steer one of these boats and neither does an experienced sculler.  It is a combination of skills that needs to be proved before a steers person is approved by the ABC captain.

Ground Rules for Pairs Use

There are 3 straightforward ground rules:

The steers person must:

  1. Have experience of rowing / racing in a white hulled 4, and therefore accomplished at balancing a 4;
  2. Will require initial assessment and guidance required with the coaching launch for a minimum of 2 sessions.  The coaching launch must be only responsible for this pair and no other crew during the outing;
  3. Must have six (6) outings or so, covering steering straight and stroke making and then pushing through bridges at full pressure to get signed off.

The sign off must be completed accompanied by the launch.

Ground Rules for Doubles Use

There are 3 straightforward ground rules:

  1. If a member who has passed her or his silver sculling award and wants to take out a double as steersperson then the other crew member must have her or his intermediate / bronze sculling award;
  2. If the steersperson has her or his gold level the other crew member can be a novice sculler, but the novice sculler must have sat and balanced a boat of racing shell dimensions, i.e. Grey Scull;
  3. For working with the coaching launch the minimum standard in the double must be that both members have intermediate / bronze level and can only go out as such when accompanied permanently by the coaching launch.  The coaching launch must be only responsible for this double and no other crew during the outing.

To summarise, if no coaching launch in support then no outing until one member has a silver sculling award.

Boat Types

Most clubs will have a variety of boat classes and types and these can be quite mystifying to the new volunteer.

Rowing boats range in size from a single scull (8.2m), doubles/pairs (10.4m), fours/quads (13.4m), to eights/octuples (18.9m).  They have to be stored carefully as they are expensive and can be easily damaged.  Space is often the limiting factor in a club’s capacity to keep a large fleet of boats.  Clubs may also have privately owned boats (usually single sculls) and in most cases members pay an annual fee to the club for storage.

The boats all have ‘parts’, some of which can be removed for trailing or storage and which are designed for both safety and speed.



Sculling boats – numbered according to the number of rowers

Single Sculling boat - a sculling boat for one where the rower has two sculls. The boat is the smallest of all the classes in both length and width. Racing classification 1x.

Double Sculling boat - a sculling boat designed for two rowers, unlike the coxless pair, the double scull does not require a rudder as the bow person of the crew can use pressure on the oars or footplate to steer the boat. Racing Classification 2x. 

Coxless Quadruple sculling boat - a sculling boat for four people, where one member of the crew has a foot steering system. Racing Classification 4x. 

Coxed Quadruple – as above but with a cox.  Like the coxed four, the crew can row in a stern loader or front loader boat.  Racing Classification 4x+.

As above

Octuple sculling boat - a sculling boat for 8 people.  This is the largest and fastest sculling boat class.  Most octuples have the cox seated in the stern as for eights.  Racing Classification 80.

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Sweep oared boats – numbered according to the number of oars

Coxless Pair oared boat - a sweep oar boat for two rowers.  These boats also have the use of a rudder, so it will turn easily; one of the rowers uses a foot steering mechanism to control the rudder.  Racing classification 2-.

Coxless Four - a sweep oar boat for four people. Like the coxless pair one member of the crew will have a foot steering system. This is often the bow person as he or he has the best field of vision, but in some crews other members of the crew will be steering. Racing Classification 4-.

Coxed Four - a sweep oar boat for four people and a cox.  There are two types of coxed fours, stern loaders and front loaders. In stern loaders the cox sits facing the stroke person of the boat.  These boats offer a good view of the crew so the cox can make visual technique calls and also see where the oars are in relation to the bank.  Front loaders are boats where the cox is positioned at the bow end of the boat but where the body of the cox is lying down in the hull.  The advantage of this is that the cox can see the direct path of travel in front of the boat.  Front loaders are deemed the better type of racing boat due to the weight of the crew spread out more evenly across the hull and better aerodynamic shape. Racing Classification 4+.

Eight oared boat - a sweep oar boat for 8 people.  This is the fastest and largest sweep boat class. All eights are coxed boats for safety reasons with the cox normally seated in the stern. Racing Classification 8+.



Other Equipment and Clothing

Oars (Blades)

There is a difference between the oars used for sculling (with each rower having two sculls) and sweep rowing (each rower with one oar).  Sculls are not only shorter but thinner in diameter, and have smaller handles than sweep oars.  Sweep oars are made with a larger diameter, due to the larger pressures exerted through the oars, and have a larger surface area for the hands, to accommodate two hands.  Remember that the oars are designed so their buoyancy maintains the depth of immersion of the spoon at the correct depth.

Indoor Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are a useful tool for coaches and participants.  They offer the ability to train specifically on the rowing stoke without the need for water or a boat, and so are often used in the winter months when conditions are such that it is not feasible to venture on to the water.

Coaches can also get close to the participants and have the benefit of being free to move around the participants while they are rowing to look at different angles.

Most importantly they can offer a good starting point to teach people new to the sport the basic stroke cycle.

Rowing machines are often used as a sport-specific means of testing rowers for both fitness and mental toughness.


As with all sports, specialised clothing is available. However, it is not necessarily needed until the participants become more involved in the sport.

As rowing is an outdoor water-based sport, care is needed in choosing the appropriate clothing at different times of the year.

In winter, rowers should wear lots of thin layers which can be removed as they warm up.  Coxes and coaches need to be especially careful as to what they wear as they are relatively inactive and yet are still subject to the full force of the elements.  Remember that a lot of heat is lost through our heads and a hat or hood should be considered.

Please avoid clothing on which thumbs can be caught, such as pouches and zips.

Even in the summer the weather can still be unpredictable, so be prepared.  It is always better to be over dressed and remove layers if necessary.  If it is sunny, hats with visors and sun protection should be worn.  Sun glasses can be highly desirable.

As the river Dee is tidal and we have no pontoon, wellingtons are needed to launch boats.  Note that members walking bare foot have suffered cut feet.  As this is undesirable, as is the use of flip-flops, wellington boots should be worn, or sandals with heel restraints.

Life Jackets (Buoyancy Aids)

All coxes must wear an appropriate lifejacket or buoyancy aid when coxing.  Under no circumstances shall coxes wear auto-inflating life-jackets in rowing boats.  In bow loaded rowing boats, the inflation in an inverted boat could cause the cox to become stuck and in stern coxed boats, an inflated life-jacket can impede the cox in rendering assistance to the crew.

Everyone in a launch must also wear a life-jacket.

Every life-jacket or buoyancy aid is rated to the weight of the user.  It is essential to wear a correctly sized unit and to ensure the waist belt is suitably adjusted to stop the unit riding up the chest of the user in the event that immersion is required.  An incorrectly worn unit will be dangerous to you and impede you assisting others.


For boat adjustment a variety of general tools and measuring tools is required. 

Coxes and crew should carry rigger jiggers in their kit bags, which is a cranked 10mm and 13mm ring spanner.  Mark your rigger jigger with you initials on tape and keep it clipped to a lanyard to reduce the chance of loss.

ABC maintains a central tool box however the keys are retained by the captain. 

If coaches and coxes could also maintain a collection of flat-nosed pliers, small/medium flat bladed and crosshead screwdrivers, an adjustable spanner and a roll of electrical tape, then most eventualities can be resolved.



Boat booking


Club boats are booked using the booking folder retained in the office area.  If the bar is open you can book by phone.  Booking online is not currently available.

Club boats may be booked up to 7 days in advance. E.g. If you have arrived at the club for an outing you could book for the same time next week.


If you are more than 10 minutes late for an outing, you could have your booking forfeited.  Note:  The club sculls in particular can be in popular demand and another rower has the right to take a boat that is not utilised within 10 minutes of the booked period.  If you do fail to use a booking or you have returned from an outing 10 or more minutes late on three or more occasions, you risk admonishment from the committee.

The committee may consider that if a private scull is not sufficiently utilised, renewal of racking permission next season may be rejected in favour of another applicant.

Night steering

The following is also mentioned in the night coxing/steering section:  If a boat is expected to be on the river during the hours of darkness, the time period, boat name and cox name shall be entered onto the white-board in the bar and removed after return.

There shall be no rowing in the hours of darkness without either, the bar being open and boats details on the board, or with a coach in attendance (on the bank), or crews should employ a buddy system on the water.

Carrying and Launching Boats

As a rule, the size of the boat will determine the number of people needed to carry it.  So, for example, if your rowers are using a four or a quad, four people would be needed to carry the boat.

However, there are exceptions to this.  Some boats will be heavier than others, especially if they are older or ‘restricted’ boats.  These are an older category of boat with a full length keel.  Lighter people may have difficulty in lifting and carrying the older wooden boats used for the Inter Company Championship and the Novice Nights, so it is always best to have more people rather than fewer when lifting.  Whenever you need to lift a boat you should always bend from the knees, keeping your back straight.  If a group of people is carrying a boat, only one person should issue instructions, which ensures no one gets hurt and no damage is occurs to the equipment.

Remember, anyone in the crew can call loudly to STOP; only the cox can give the instruction to move.

The Steps and Jetties

Fours and eights shall be loaded and unloaded using the jetty whenever practical; however it is acknowledged that during high water their use is impractical and care should be exercised in coming alongside the concrete steps.

An obvious statement, but the jetties are wooden and they float; therefore they should be tied to a post on a rising tide.

If you are at the bank and know that other boats are out then it will be appreciated if you would move the jetties in or out of the water, to aid coxes bringing their boats alongside after returning from an outing.  Equally an offer to assist bringing the boat alongside by gently taking the 2 or stroke blade and guiding the stern to the jetty will be appreciated.

A hazard of our sport is that sculling blades and large numbers of wellington boots can be on the concrete steps.  If you have time, please move the boots to one side of the steps.

Single Sculling Boats

Carrying Singles can be done by just one person.  However, when it is windy, a safer option is to have two people. 

When removing from the racking or trolley, care has to be taken to:

  • avoid damage to the hulls of other boats by the riggers;
  • avoid lifting the boat into the riggers of boats above.

Where appropriate, the risk of damage can be reduced by chocking the boat above.

Once the boat is clear of the racking, it is a good idea to turn the boat so that the cockpit section is against the chest of the person carrying the boat.

Once more experienced, it is best to watch what more experienced scullers do to take the boats out of the bays and onto the water.

Once at the water’s edge the boat can be turned upright and then carefully lowered into the water, ensuring there is sufficient draft for the fin.

Double Sculling Boats

Many of the same principles are applied here as in carrying single sculls to the water.  The usual method would be to stand at either end of the cockpit area, their grips appropriate to the bars provided in the boat.  Both can then sling their arms under the boat to carry it to the water’s edge, taking care when in the boat bays not to hit the ceiling or the upper frame of the door!

Fours, Quads and Eights

Carrying larger boats requires co-ordination where the crew’s movements to get the boat out of the boathouse and onto the water without damage and in safety are controlled by the cox.  Often the crew will split to both sides of the hull, so that individuals are only carrying one side.

Particular care has to be taken to keep the crew’s backs straight, in particular when reaching over a boat on the rack.

To summarise, the steps below describe how to lift out a boat:

  • The cox should call the crew to the boat. If the boat is heavy or younger people are using it, extra people might be needed to help;
  • Chock the boat above if applicable;
  • The crew gets in place to lift the boat, each rower generally stands in the position in which he or she will sit in the boat, as this will spread the weight of the boat evenly.  More people can help either at either end of the boat;
  • Each member of the crew should take hold of both sides of the boat in order to lift it  off the rack and should watch out for the riggers when the cox gives the command  to lift;
  • Once the boat is off the rack, the cox needs to keep an eye on the stern and bows  to make sure the boat doesn’t hit anything;
  • The cox will ask alternate crew members to walk around to the other side of the  boat, so each she or he will be carrying their side of the boat;
  • As the boat is taken from the bay each crew member should take care to avoid her or his rigger hitting other riggers or the door frame;
  • The crew is then ready to take the boat out to the water, with the cox keeping a keen look out for all obstructions, people, overhanging branches, etc.


Weekday Security

If you are about to boat during a weekday or when the bar is closed with little other club activity, the boat bay doors must be closed and the rower will need to take a key fob with you to access the club upon their return.

Closing Up

If you are the last person/crew to return a boat to the rack in the evening please remember the following:

  • All equipment must be returned into the boat bays – check the steps are clear!
  • Turn off the outside lights;
  • Close the bay doors;
  • Check the fresh water tap is not dripping;
  • Stack the wellington boots to the left of bay 1.

Ensure the two emergency exits are securely closed (the rear exit is at the back of bay 1, the front exit being between bays 1 and 2).

Turn off the two sets of lights; the switches for bays 1 and 2 are adjacent to the back door at the end of bay 2, on the left hand side.  The switches for bays 3 and 4 are located adjacent to the back door at the back of bay 3, on the right hand side.

The Rear Door:

The rear emergency and out of hours entrance door at the bottom of the internal stairs shall remain locked at all times.

An electronic fob is required to open the back door from the outside.  Please ensure it is closed behind you as there is no automatic door closer.

The door is opened from the inside by using the switch on the wall to disengage the lock, or by using the emergency bar.



Racing Classification

Apart from the boat classifications listed above, race categories will include the following:

  • sex of the rowers - Men (M), Women (W);
  • age (for junior rowers) J13, J14, J15, etc.
  • level of expertise or racing status Novice (N), Senior (S);
  • sculling , denoted by: x;
  • coxed, denoted by: +;
  • coxless, denoted by: – or o;

There are also classifications for Veterans, Under 23s, Adaptive rowers and more.



Race Days

Preparation for a regatta or head of the river event requires a lot of preparation that is not readily apparent.  Racing entries need to be confirmed and fees paid, boats require allocation and the loading plan for the trailer designed.  A competent driver with a car suitable for towing needs to be arranged and, of course all the participating rowers require to be at the event with their kit suitably in advance, not only for their event/s but to unload the trailer and rig the boats.

If you leave your decision making or payment of fees to the last minute, or do not readily volunteer and assist with the loading it makes for additional work and stress for the organisers and your fellow crew.  Be there, listen and assist!

Race days are extremely busy for the ABC coaches.  They may be looking after several crews and have to deal with, substitutes and other event administration, such as fetching race numbers, and their crews’ race preparation.  At larger events, coaches will also want to keep an eye on how the competition is doing in other heats and so work out race plans based on how other crews race.

So what can you do to help on race days?

If you are new to the sport the first regatta or head race you attend is often quite an experience in its own right.  There may be long periods of waiting around interspersed with periods of frantic activity.  If you can assist the coach you should agree in advance the areas for which you will be responsible.  Make sure you understand the timescales for each activity on the day.

Boat rigging

One of the first things to do on arrival at an event is to get boats off the trailer and rigged up.  This may mean a very early start, particularly for regatta heats or the first division of a head race.

Event registration

Crew registration is an early process so that the event organisers are aware of which crews are on site.  Registration will usually consist of having to collect the race numbers for crews and potentially pay a deposit against their safe return.  These will either need to be fixed to the back of the bow-person’s racing kit, or placed in the number slot on the bow end of the boat.  Often the crew’s Scottish Rowing membership cards are required for event registration outside Scotland, so that the organisers can check the correct people are entered into the event.  For Scottish Rowing events each member’s entry is checked against the database and cards are not strictly required, but it is good practice to carry them anyway.

Remember that we have been refused entry to races due to late registration!

Other activities to be considered during an event are:

  • Helping other crews with the boat and making sure they get to the start of their event on time;
  • Assisting crews to launch and embark on their boats;
  • Keeping an eye on their kit, such as trainers and water bottles;
  • Security of personal belongings such as wallets and mobile phones;
  • Collecting results.



Rowing Related Terms

As with all sports, rowing uses sport specific language.  Below are some of the more common rowing related terms:


Scottish Rowing


British Rowing

The national governing body for rowing in England, to which all English clubs should be affiliated.  Offers individual membership with benefits of monthly magazine, website information, insurance and racing licence to open regattas that are run under the association's rules.  British Rowing is the governing body for representation by British rowers in international regattas. 

Scottish Rowing

The national governing body for rowing in Scotland. Offers individual membership with benefits of website information, insurance and racing licence to open regattas that are run under the association's rules.


The Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron is the international rowing federation. The federation is responsible for all international racing and rules. Organises a series of 3 World Cup Regattas and World Championships annually.

Common Terms


An alternative name for an oar

Body Rock

To move the upper part of the body forward, over the waist after blade extraction, whist the rowers legs are still flat

Bow Rigged

When the stroke person is on the bow (starboard) side

Bow Side/ Stoke side

Bow side is the right side of the boat when sitting in the cox’s seat facing forward, that is the starboard side.

Stroke side is the left hand side of the boat when sitting in the cox’s seat facing forward, that is the port side.


A small number of strokes (usually less than a minute) taken at full pressure in training.


The plastic ring on the loom of the blade which is attached over the sleeve of the loom at a set distance from the spoon and hence determines the outboard distance of the spoon from the boat


When the oar becomes caught in the water which may result in the blade handle striking the rower, inadvertent release of the handle and almost certainly slewing the boat and upsetting the balance.


Indoor rowing machine used for training.

Feathered / Squared

The angle of the spoon of the blade in relation to the water.  It is squared when it is perpendicular to the water.  It is feathered when it is parallel to the water

Fixed Seat

Either a description used to differentiate a boat without a sliding seat mechanism or the rower rowing arms and or body only and therefore not moving the seat.

Gate and Swivel

The swivel is the plastic U-shaped holder which is mounted on the pin on the rigger and which holds the blade.  The gate is the metal top retaining bar.  Ensure it is facing aft when installing the oar and is locked before rowing!


The plastic or wooden part of the blade which you hold onto

Head Race

Race in which crews are timed over a set distance.  Usually run as a processional race rather than side by side.

Inside Hand

The hand nearest the gate.  In terms of sweep rowing it is the hand that does the feathering and squaring


Length of stroke - the arc through which the blade turns when it is in the water from catch to finish.


The shaft of the blade (oar)


A term used to describe someone who has little rowing experience.

Outside Hand

The hand furthest away from the gate (in sweep rowing terms).  It provides the power and striking down


Vertical metal rod attached to the rigger, to which the (swivelling) gate is attached


Pressure.  The amount of effort applied by the rower to the power phase of the stroke.  Terms can be (usually): light, ½, ¾, firm or full.

Rate, or rating

Number of strokes rowed in a minute.


The ratio of time between the drive and the recovery phases of the rowing stroke


A competition with events for different boat types and status rowers usually involving heats, semi-finals and finals for each event.  Boats compete side by side from a standing start.


Metal bracket and stays attached to the side of the boat which holds the gate and hence the blade.  The outboard distance, height and pitch/roll angle of the rigger and gate is critical to the optimum rowing stroke.


The way in which the riggers, slides, swivel, pins, foot plate, oars and sculls can be adjusted to optimise rower comfort and efficiency.

Rigger jigger

A small spanner used for attaching and adjusting riggers.

Rolling start

A rolling start undertaken with the boat already moving.


A tubular plastic section attached to the loom with squared sides which sits within the gate and guides the rotation of the blade to either a squared or feathered rotational angle.


Metal rails on which the rower’s seat runs.


Part of the blade, which is in contact with the water.

Standing start

A racing start done from a stationary stance.


An anchored boat or pontoon from which rowing boats are held prior to a race starting.

Strike Down

When the rower pushes the handle down to lever the blade out of the water


The rower who sits closest to the stern of the boat in front of all the others and is responsible for the rating and rhythm of the boat (other crew members can influence rating and rhythm from behind).


An arrangement of two consecutive rowers on the same side.

Trestles and Slings

Portable stands used to support a boat for rigging, washing, admiring etc.  Slings have strops to support the hull and are used for joining the boat sections together and for checks and adjustments.  Trestles have a firm top and are used to support the boat in an inverted attitude, generally for washing down after an outing.

Coxing Terms

Back Down

Term used to describe using a reverse rowing action to manoeuvre the boat backwards or for turning.

Back Stops

The end of the slide nearest the bow.  Prevents the seat from running off the slide.  Also used to describe the position at which the rowers sit with their legs straight and blades to their chests.


Crew gently square the blades in the water to stop the forward motion.

Come Forward

Verbal instruction used by the cox or rower to bring the crew to front-stops position ready to row.


Originally cock-swain and usually known as the cox, who instructs the crew and is the person who steers the boat by means of strings or wires attached to the rudder.  Can be positioned in either the stern or bow of the boat.


To drop the feathered blade onto the water surface after finishing the last stroke.

Easy Oar

Easy Oar.  Verbal instruction given by cox or steers-person for crew to stop rowing with the blades above the water and feathered..

Full Pressure

Term used to suggest that the rowers are applying full pressure to the power phase of their rowing stroke.

Front Stops

The end of the slide nearest the stern. Prevents the seat from running off the slide.  Also used to describe the position at which the rowers sit, with their legs at 90deg and the blade spoon at the furthest point to the bows.

Half Slide

Taking the catch halfway to front-stops instead of at full slide.

‘Hold It Up’

Verbal instruction meaning to bring the boat to a stop quickly. Potentially an emergency stop.

Light Pressure

Not pulling very hard, typically about 20% power being applied.

Sit the boat

Rowers sit with the blade feathered and flat on the water holding the boat level and steady.

Take a catch, or Taps

Short part-stroke/s to straighten the boat.

The Stroke Cycle


The moment at which the spoon of the blade is immersed in the water and propulsive force is applied.


Used to describe the link between the power of a rower’s legs to the force applied to the spoon of the blade. Should be made as soon as the catch is taken and held through the trunk muscles for the length of the work section of the stroke.


The part of the stroke when the blade is taken out of the water.  The removal of the blade from the water by application of downward pressure to the blade handle.  In sweep this is done with the outside hand on the blade handle.  Movement easiest when force is applied to the spoon of the blade until the last moment.

Draw / Drive

The part of the stroke between the catch and the extraction when the spoon is in the water and propelling the boat.


The part of the stroke phase between the extraction and the catch when the blade is out of the water.  It is a controlled forward movement up the slide, in unison with stroke.




The Club Constitution


The current copy of the club constitution was revised in December 2018.

The Constitution

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