Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Oxford rowing jargon

If you're heading out to watch the Summer Eights this week, a quick lesson in rowing lingo 
might come in handy.....I never knew there were crabs in the Isis!
Blades - the 'trophy oars' awarded to crews who 'bump up' every day.

Boatie - Common slang at Oxford and Cambridge for someone who is obsessed with rowing.

Bowside - the right, or starboard side of the boat.

Crab or Catch a crab - a rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove the oar blade from the water. Whilst in the water, the oar acts as a brake, slowing the boat down. A severe crab 
can even eject a rower out of the shell! Occasionally, in a severe crab, or 'over-the-head crab,' the 
oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her.

Cox - the oar-less crew member who sits in the stern of the boat.

Eights - an inter-collegiate boat race held annually in Trinity term. 

    Erg - a rowing machine used for training.  

    Head of the River - the glorious title given to the winning crew of the first division.

The Isis - another name for the River Thames, a shortened version of it's latin name 'Tamesis'. 

Klaxon - a loud horn used if the racing line becomes completely blocked, if there is someone or something (usually a swan) in the water, or if a severe collision imminent. You'll here the marshal shouting “klaxon klaxon klaxon” over the radio to confirm that the race has been cancelled.

Rating - the number of strokes per minute. 

Sculling - a form of rowing where the rower uses two oars, or 'sculls.' 

Shell - often used to refer to the boat itself.

Spoons - the opposite of blades. A 'booby' prize awarded to rowing crews who are 'bumped down' every day, or to the boat finishing bottom of the river. In theory, such a crews are allowed to paint a wooden spoon in their college colours and write their names on it as a trophy of their 'achievement', or lack there of.   

Stern - the back end of the boat (or shell), where the cox usually sits. 

Stroke - the rower closest to the stern of the boat, responsible for the stroke rate and rhythm. 

Strokeside - the left or port side of the boat. 

Sweep rowing - a form of rowing where each rower handles a single oar. 

Torpids - an inter-collegiate boat race held annually in Hilary term.

Images: Oxford Rowing Colours, 1848.

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