Aquatics Being an outdoors sport, the weather and water status are factors that crews must deal with to achieve their best performance. The unsafe conditions due to high waves or strong winds may push officials to postpone a rowing day and re-schedule it to more favourable conditions.

Rowing consists in propelling a boat with rows along a 2.000 metre track on a straight line. Unlike canoeing, where athletes are facing forward, rowers are seated facing backwards towards the movement. It is the only sport where the athletes reach the finish line with their backs facing to it. They have their feet secured to the boat, while the seat is sliding back and forth along the rails as the rows push the boat forward.

Apart from an incredible physical shape, success in rowing is due to the technique and teamwork to obtain the max speed and distance in each movement. A rower or teams must manage their race to perfection, making sure to have enough energy for the final metres of the competition.

History of this sport

Rowing sport takes its name from the element that is used to propel the boat. Before transforming into an Olympic discipline, it was already used as a means of transport in millennia-old cultures such as Ancient Egypt, where it was used for all kinds of activities: commerce, transport, war. It is in Italy where it is believed the first regatta was born (nautical competition). As a matter of fact, the word has its origin in regattare which means “to compete to obtain a prize”.

However, the true transformation of rowing as sport, was between the 18th and 19th centuries in Great Britain. Shipmen that transported passengers along the Thames competed amongst themselves to show they were the fastest, and this, get more clients. Although its history goes back to over centuries ago, rowing reached its maturity as a competition sport in the last 200 years. The interest began to increase after the Oxford and Cambridge universities started their famous rivalry in the Thames in London in 1829, a rivalry that continues today showing up in the annual boat race.

Rowing has been practiced in every Games since its debut in the Olympic program in Paris 1900, after the competition in the 1896 Games was suspended due to bad weather. Female competitions arrived to the Olympic Games in Montreal 1976.

It is considered that the first annual rowing competition that was performed was the “Doggett’s Coat and Badge”, that continues to be performed today in London.

In the picture, two male rowers in competition.

How do you compete?

Rowing is divided into two sub-categories: sculling and sweep. Sculling consists in holding an oar in each hand, whereas in the Sweep competitions a single oar is held with both hands.

The sculling competitions include single sculls, double sculls, and quad sculls, whereas sweep has the coxless pair (straight pair), coxless four (straight four), and eight (always coxed). Only in Eight a coxswain is included, who directs the boat, while the other two competitions do not have coxswains. There is a light weight competition for men and another for women. The light weight category for men requires that the crews have an average weight of 70kg or less, and that no rower surpasses a weight of 72,5 kg; for the women’s crews the average max weight is 57kg and no athlete may surpass a weight of 59 kg.

In Eight regattas, the coxswain plays an important role, since not only they have to direct the boat, but also pay attention to the rivals tactics, and give instructions to their crew to be ready for the final sprint towards the finish line.


Which two sub-categories is rowing divided into?

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Information for the community

Chile has areas that are not far from the capital city, where rowing is the sport king. Valdivia city, in the Rivers Region for example, is 847,6 km south of Santiago city, and it’s located in the union of the Calle-Calle, Caucau and the Cruces rivers, and it’s 15 km from the Corral Bay. An ideal landscape to practice this sport.

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