Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Olympics guide: Rowing

rowing-cropped.jpg

Until the Olympics committee get smart and take our Pedalo proposal seriously, you will have to make do with rowing. Here's your how to guide, so you know your oar from your elbow.

Athletes: 550

Golds up for grabs: 14

Olympic presence: Men’s 1900–present; women’s from 1976.

Olympic Format: Fourteen events are held over six days (8 men’s, 6 women’s), in classes organised by number of rowers (singles, pairs, fours and eights) and types of rowing (sculls and sweeps).

Contenders: In men’s rowing the medallists are likely to come from North America, Australasia and northern Europe, with the Germans and British looking particularly strong. In the women’s events the strongest crews tend to come from the USA, Netherlands, China, Romania and Britain.

Past Champions: East Germany: 33 | USA : 31 | Great Britain: 24

..........................................................................................................................................................

THE BASICS

Rowing races come in many formats, but at the Olympics the competition is simple. In all events, up to eight boatsrace side-by-side in lanes, over a dead straight 2000m course. The current race length was first tried in Stockholm in 1912 but became the norm only in 1952. Women’s races, first held over 1000m, were lengthened to 2000m in 1988. Early Games saw head-to-head match racing but the side-by-side format became standard in 1956. (second-chance round) and finals. If enough crews are entered there may be semi-finals too.

Boats are allowed one false start; any more and you are out. A restart is called if a boat suffers a mechanical failure, such as an oar splitting, before it has travelled 100m. This occurred in the repechage round of the men’s eights at the 1984 Games, when an oar on the French boat broke and was subsequently found to have been tampered with. The lanes, though marked by buoys, are optional. Crews can take any course they like as long as they don’t interfere with others.

(pictured, how to perform the rowing stroke)

Olympic Rowing Classes

Rowing takes two forms: sculling, in which the rower has two oars, and sweeping, in which the rower has just one oar, held with both hands. Sculls are raced with one, two or four rowers, called singles, doubles and quads. Sweeps are raced with two, four or eight rowers, called pairs, fours and eights.

In eights, a coxswain or cox sits at the back of the boat, steers the craft and directs the crew’s Sculls are raced with one, two or four rowers, called singles, doubles and quads. Sweeps are raced with two, four or eight rowers, called pairs, fours and eights. In eights, a coxswain or cox sits at the back of the boat, steers the craft and directs the crew’s stroke rate. In straight or coxless craft, the boat is directed by the steersman, a rower who has the rudder cable attached to a shoe.

Men compete in all of these boats, with an additional category of lightweight men (no one heavier than 70kg) in the coxless fours. Women compete in all boats except the coxless fours and have a lightweight event (no one heavier than 55kg) in the double sculls. Sculls go faster than sweep boats with the same number of rowers, and the more rowers a boat has the faster it will be. Men’s eights are capable of speeds up to 25kmh.

These are the classes:

Single scull. Length: 8.2m; Minimum weight: 14kg. Events: men and women. The single – or the skiff, as it is known in Europe – is the only individual event in rowing. There’s nowhere to hide. Double scull. Length: 10.4m; Minimum weight: 27kg. Events: men, women and lightweight women.Like all pair events in rowing, double sculls seem to favour partnerships made up of different kinds of rowers: power rowers are often combined with more technical athletes. Personal chemistry between the pair is crucial.

Quad scull.Length: 13.4m; Minimum weight: 52kg. Events: men and women. Eight blades and four rowers makes for the fastest boats after the eights. Great precision and team work are required to keep time and avoid blade clashes.

Pair or Coxless pair. Length: 10.4m; Minimum weight: 27kg. Events: men and women. The coxless pair is technically among the most demanding of boats, responding poorly to any indiscriminate use of power. Balance, stability and elegance are the watch words.

Four or Coxless four. Length: 13.4m; Minimum weight: 50kg. Events: men, lightweight men. The same balance of power and technique is required to get the best from this boat, but with four rowers the level of complexity is even higher. The crew spend more time rowing at maximum stroke rate than in any other class.

Eight. Length: 19m; Minimum weight: 96kg. Events: men and women. Considered by many the premier regatta format – and the only coxed event at the Olympics – the eights is an unbelievably demanding competition with rowers close to four-minute mile pace and constantly on the verge of a lactic acid burn-out.

(Images: Rex Features)

Related

rexfeatures_1730477d.jpg

How to watch the Olympics

Swimming.jpg

Olympics guide: Swimming

Olympics-HERO.jpg

Olympics guide: Athletics

Comments

More

BT Sport is about to start showing live games of FIFA 17

Would you tune in to watch the FIFA pros?

by Alex Finnis
23 Feb 2017

Morrisons want Sutton's Wayne Shaw as an official pie-taster

This was inevitable

by Alex Finnis
21 Feb 2017

Sutton United's Wayne Shaw resigns over pie-eating betrayal of footbal

Is nothing pure?

by Sam Diss
21 Feb 2017

The original green Power Ranger wants to fight CM Punk

Would watch

21 Feb 2017

Arsenal have a tiny dressing room at Sutton away

by Alex Finnis
20 Feb 2017

Liverpool FC ban The Sun journalists from Anfield

A full Sun shun

by Gary Ogden
10 Feb 2017

Five football club badges reimagined for the corporate era

Embrace the prawn sandwiches guys, embrace them

26 Jan 2017

Usain Bolt loses Olympic Gold after teammate's doping conviction

The sprinter's 'triple treble' is no more

25 Jan 2017

How Eric Cantona's kung-fu kick changed my life

22 years to the day, one writer muses over that infamous night at Selhurst Park

by Dave Fawbert
24 Jan 2017

Senegal goalkeeper pulls the most ridiculous time-wasting trick ever

That's one way to kill a few seconds

by Dave Fawbert
24 Jan 2017