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Gig Rowing Terms

You will need to get your head round a few strange words before you step into a gig and pick up a few more as you progress. These are the ones you will hear most frequently:

1. General

Cox: The boss (coxswain): he or she who will be obeyed at all times – and by custom and courtesy don’t forget to thank the cox at the end of the session.
Fender: The cushion like thing that is hung off the boat to protect the gig from damage.
Catch: When the blade of your oar catches the water at the start of the stroke.
Feathering: Turning the oars on the return stroke to reduce wind drag.
Full Oar: Pulling your weight in the gig and getting a bend in the blade.
Clash Oars: What happens when oars collide in a race and best avoided.
Crab: You “Catch a Crab” when the blade digs too deep into the water, this can push you off your seat or break a pin.
Mark: The buoys which mark a regatta course where you are most likely to hear a call of “give water” swiftly followed by nautical equivalent of a car crash.
Numbers: “I am not a number” well you are in a gig. From 1 to 6 depending on where you sit.
Stroke: The rower in 6 who sets the pace for the rest of the gig. The “Stroke Side” is our term for the Starboard side of the gig. Also by custom and courtesy don’t forget to thank the Stroke (number 6) at the end of the session.
Engine Room: The power positions in the gig at 3 & 4.

2. Gig and Oars

Bow: The pointy bit at the front of the boat. Also the rower in the number 1 seat.
Bow Side: The “Bow Side” is our term for the Port Side of the gig.
Bung: As in “has anyone put the bung in?” when you first feel cold water swilling around your ankles.
Gunwale: The strong top rail of the gig which is pronounced “Gunnel”.
Pilot Seat: The seat at the very front of the gig also called the “seagull seat”.
Pins: “Thole Pins” hold the oars on the gunwale. You pull against a hardwood pin and a softwood pin keeps the oar in place on the return stroke. “soft to stern” is aid to remembering which pin is put in the hole nearer the stern. Do not mix them up!!!!
Rudder: Steers the gig.
Stern: The opposite of the pointy bit.
Stretchers: What your feet push against.
Thwart: The bit of the gig you sit on.
Yoke: Attached to the rudder, gives the Cox the leverage needed to turn the rudder by pulling on the “Yoke Lines”.
Leathers: These protect your oar and prevent chaffing in the pins. Where you row on the leathers alters your power through the water.
Tallow: Used to reduce friction on the leathers.

2. Cox Commands

A command from a Cox must be obeyed without question. To stay on their good side and
keep out of trouble remember these calls;

And Row: Request made by the Cox to start crew rowing (not racing).
Arms only: Row with minimum power, sitting up and using arms only (!) usually when manoeuvring the gig.
Back Water: Row backwards – to reverse the gig or turn it in a confined space.
Buoy Approaching: Instruction to crew that a turning mark is approaching.
Buoy turn: Turn the boat now…….
Come Forward: Crew move forward into the start position but blades feathered.
Dab up: Call from the Cox to take a quick short stoke while on the start line (usually), so you are not caught mid stroke on the GO….
Easy Up: Stop rowing….. or moving the boat when ashore.
Give Water: Shouted call from Cox, traditionally ignored, for other gigs in race to move over.
Note: If Give Water call comes from umpires it must be obeyed.
GO: Time to go to work……
Hold Water: Hold your blade in the water to stop or slow the gig.
Listen up: stop chattering, fiddling about, etc and pay attention to what the cox is about to tell you.
Oars….: As in “up oars” or “ship oars” or “stow your oars”.
Pull us round: as in “Bow side pull us round” -command for only one side of gig to row in order to turn boat.
Ready to Row: Follows “come forward” turn your blade and get ready to row – blade near the water but not in the water.
Row Hard: Instruction to row at full power.
Row Long: Instruction to keep the full length of stroke to help the gig run.
Square your blade: … at the catch. Make sure your blade goes into the water at right angles to the water. Tipped back – the blade will dive deeper and you’ll probably catch a crab. Tipped forward (also “hooded”) and the blade won’t bite the water properly – your
contribution to the power of that stroke will be much less (makes life harder for your crew mates) and the oar shaft may rise up out of the pins.
Stroke side: Instruction to rowers 6, 4 & 2 on what to do as in “stroke side take a stroke”.
Bow side: Instruction to rowers 5, 3 & 1 or on what to do as in “bow side take a stroke”.
Take a Stroke: is to complete the rowing action once.
Toss the Oar: The bow rower tosses his oar from bow side to row stroke side helping the gig to turn the buoys more quickly in a race.
Three Cheers: After a race as tradition dictates, given loudly for the gig you beat and by the gig that beats yours.