Aquatics As an outdoors sport, the weather and the water status are factors that the crews have to deal with to achieve their best performance. Rowing consists in pushing a boat with oars along a 2,000 m straight water track. Unlike canoe sprint, where athletes are facing towards the finish line, rowers are facing backwards in the direction of the movement.

As a matter of fact, it is the only sport where athletes reach the finish line facing backwards, so each crew must trust the judge that follows the race behind the boats, watching over the finish line. Each rower has their feet secured to the boat, while their seat moves forwards and backwards along the rails, pushing the oars into the water to move the boat along the continuous movement of the rowers. Apart from a great physical strength, success in rowing is also thanks to the technique and teamwork to achieve top speed and distance with each stroke. A rower or the teams must manage their race to perfection, making sure of having enough energy during the whole competition and lead the race.

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 regions not so far from the capital, where rowing and canoeing stand out par excellence. San Pedro de la Paz, for example, has become a hotbed of athletes and a cradle of national teams in these disciplines. The city has a first class Nautical Centre (CENDYR), it also has 2 Canoeing Clubs and a Paracanoeing Club, the only one in the country, which has world champions in the discipline, which operate in this infrastructure, in the Laguna Chica. In addition to this, there are 6 rowing clubs, 5 of which practise in this same body of water and 1 in the Laguna Grande, specifically the Club Deportivo de Regatas Miramar, from which come the outstanding national athletes, the quadruplets, Melita, Ignacio, Alfredo and Antonia Abraham, rowing icons with national and international titles. This has given us a nautical seal for San Pedro de la Paz.

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