A Quick Guide to Rafting and Rowing Terminology


Whether you’re new to the sport of spend most of your rowing time alone, you’re likely in need of a terminology refresher. Below, we have defined some of the most important terms in rafting and rowing. Use these to tell your friends about a great day on the water or to communicate with other rafters and rowers.

 

Backsplash—The minor splash that occurs when a rower’s oar blade enters the water at a bad angle. This is a sign of inefficient blade work.

 

Blade—This is the flat surface of the oar.

 

Catch—The slight hesitation you may see in a boat being rowed. This happens when the rower’s forward slide during the recovery interrupts the momentum of the boat.

 

Feathering—This refers to the position of the oar blades as they are turned parallel to the face of the water in order to cut down on wind resistance during the recovery portion of a rowing stroke.

 

Oarlock—A u-shaped swivel that holds the oar in position.

 

Stroke Rate—The number of strokes per minute.

 

Way Enough—The formal command to stop rowing.

 

Eddy—A river feature that forms downstream of an obstruction. Water in an eddy flows in the opposite direction of the river, creating a swirling and potentially violent area.

 

Riffle—A term used to describe very small and not difficult rapids, usually rated as Class II or below.

 

Put-In—The starting point of any rafting trip. This is where the boat is brought into the water.

 

Take-Out—The ending point of any rafting trip. This is where the boat is removed from the water.

 

High Side—A command used just before collisions meant to prevent the raft from wrapping or flipping.