Rowing Terminology

Here’s a selection of rowing lingo you can expect to hear at the boat house and from rowing friends.

Please don’t worry about learning these, novices will learn these terms along the way, and your LBCs are here to help with any questions you might have!

ATBH: Shorthand for ‘at the boat house’, aka the time you must arrive for a session.

Backstops: The start of the stroke where your blade is in by your chest.

Blade: The oar, or the award for bumping up everyday at bumps.

Boat Club Dinner: A legendary formal dinner held after the main race(s) of term to celebrate all things PCBC. The main motivation to row.

Boatie: A sensible, sane person who loves rowing.

Bow: The eighth rower, or the front end of the boat.

Catch: The point at which you drop the blade into the water and push.

Cox: The ultimate authority in the boat, to be questioned at your own risk.

Coxbox: An amplifier which the cox uses to impose their authority on the boat.

Crab: When you lose control of your blade, known as ‘catching a crab’.

CUBC: Shorthand for Cambridge University Boat Club, the club that represents Cambridge in races against Oxford. Consists of heavyweight and lightweight men and women. Not to be confused with CUCBC!

CUCBC: Shorthand for Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs, the organisation that runs Lent and May Bumps and oversees college usage of the River Cam. Not to be confused with CUBC!

Erg: A rowing machine, or a land training session on said machine.

Feather: Turning your blade so that it is parallel to the water, the opposite of squaring.

Finish: The end of the stroke, where your blade comes out of the water.

Flag: The CUCBC method of notifying rowers whether the weather is too bad to row, now conveniently available online.

Frontstops: The position in which you are just about to place the blade into the water.

Gate: Where your blade is secured to the boat, to be tightened BEFORE beginning a race.

GDBO: God Damn Bloody Oxford!!

Hold it up: A call to emergency stop the boat as you are about to crash

Lighting up/down: The times between which you are allowed to row on the river, according to CUCBC. Relates to sunrise and sunset, and is mostly something for your captain to worry about!

Outing: A session on the water

Piece: A short burst of intense rowing.

Rate: How many strokes are being taken in a minute.

Recovery: The bit of the stroke where you slide towards the front, not to be rushed or the Stroke will have STRONG feelings on the matter.

Rigger Jigger: A tool used to take boats apart and put them back together.

Set: The balance of the boat. A common complaint is that ‘the set is off’, aka the boat is tipping from side to side. 

Split: The time it takes for the boat to move 500m

Speed Coach: A piece of equipment that has lots of data about the boat on it (the stroke rate, the split, the distance travelled among others).

Square: Turning your blade so that it is perpendicular to the water, the opposite of feathering.

Steady State: Low rate high pressure rowing, not as some members thought, a call to stop trying

Stroke: The full action of coming forwards and pushing your blade through the water, or the rower closest to the cox. 

Stroke Coach: A piece of equipment that shows the stroke rate of the boat. Usually used by the rower sitting in the stroke seat.

Swap: A social joint with another boat club. Often involves games and/or drinking, and is another great motivation to row.

Tapping Down: Having the blade lifted off of the water when coming forwards, the opposite of trailing blades.

Trailing Blades: Having the blade trailing on the water, the opposite of tapping down.

Trialists: People rowing at CUBC, and not their college, with the intention of competing against Oxford.

Yeah Pem: A term of encouragement, excitement and a rallying cry expressing a love for PCBC. Often shouted from one PCBC crew to another on the river. Yeah Pem!!