Competitive Rowing Boat Types

Boats or shells were traditionally made from wood, but are now almost exclusively fabricated from carbon fibre and plastic (eg. kevlar). They are 597 to 622 mm wide, and from 8.2 metres to 19.9 metres long. A small fin is fitted at the bottom for stability. A rudder is attached to the fin or the stem (except on sculling boats). A white ball is attached to the bow (safety measure, photo-finish). A washboard prevents waves from splashing water aboard. Seats are fitted with wheels which roll on tracks called slides.

Boat Classes

There are nine classes of boat, of which five are for sweep-oared rowing in which the rower uses one oar with both hands, and three are for sculling in which two sculls are used, one in each hand.
Some classes carry a coxswain who either sits in the stern or lies in the bow to steer the boat. The boat classes (using their international codes)are:

Sculling boats   

1x = Single sculling skiff - approximate length 8.2 m (27 ft); minimum weight 14 kg (30.8 lbs)
2x = Double sculling boat - approximate length 10.4 m (34 ft); minimum weight 27 kg (59 lbs)
4x = Quadruple sculling boat - approximate length 13.4 m (44 ft); minimum weight 52 kg (114 lbs)
4x+ = Coxed Quadruple scull - approximate length 13.7 m (45 ft); minimum weight 53 kg (114 lbs)

Sweep oared boats   

2- = Coxless pair oar boat - approximate length 10.4 m (34 ft); minimum weight 27 kg (59 lbs)
2+ = Coxed pair oar boat - approximate length 10.4 m (34 ft); minimum weight 32 kg (70 lbs)
4- = Coxless four oar boat - approximate length 13.4 m (44 ft); minimum weight 50 kg (110 lbs)
4+ = Coxed four oar boat - approximate length 13.7 m (45 ft); minimum weight 51 kg (112 lbs)
8+ = Eight oar boat - approximate length 19.9 m (62 ft); minimum weight 96 kg (211 lbs)

Eights are constructed in two sections which bolt together (to facilitate transportation). The maximum length of a section of an Eight is 11.9 metres.

The Oars

  Oars were traditionally made from wood, but are now almost exclusive made from carbon fibre and plastic with the exception of the handle which is wood. Oars are hollow to reduce weight, attached to the boat by adjustable outriggers. The size and shape of oars is unrestricted hence many different shapes of the blade or spoon (the area of the oar which enters the water and the rower pulls against) have been tried. The average length of a sweep oar being 3.81 m (12 feet 6 inches) and of a scull being 2.98 m (9 feet 9 inches).

"Acknowledgement: The source of much of the information contained on this page is the FISA Directory."