Blade: The flat end of the oar that is in the water during the drive. Crews are identified by the design on their blades

Bow: The forward section of the boat; the first part to cross the finish line

Bowman: The person in the seat closest to the bow who crosses the finish line first

Bow ball: The round tip (usually rubber and 4cm in diameter) on the end of the bow. It is required by all boats at Olympic rowing events to minimize damage in the event of a collision.

Button: A wide collar on the oar that keeps it from slipping through the oarlock. The button may be moved to adjust the position of the fulcrum of the oar; coaches often will move the button in headwind or tailwind conditions to change the "load."

Catching a crab: When a rower errors in releasing his blade from the water and the oars get pulled under the water, with the consequent force sometimes hurling the rower from the shell

Check: The extent to which a shell loses momentum as the crew changes directions just before they begin to pull

Coxswain: Person who steers the shell and directs the race plan, acting as the eyes of the crew. Often times considered an on-the-water coach for the crew.

Deck: The part of the shell at the bow and stern that is covered with fiberglass cloth or a thin plastic

Drive: The segment of the rowing stroke during which the blades are in the water

Ergometer: Known to rowers as an "erg," a rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion and allows athletes to measure their strokes per minute and distance covered

Feathering: Holding the blades in a flat position between strokes to reduce wind resistance during recovery; one of the most difficult aspects of rowing for beginners

FISA: In French, the Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron, rowing's international governing body. Established in 1892, it is the oldest international sports federation in the Olympic movement.

Gate: The bar across the oar lock that keeps the oar in place.

German or Italian rigging: A different way of setting up which side of the boat the oars are on in a sweep boat. Instead of alternating from side to side all the way down, in a German- or Italian-rigged boat, two consecutive rowers have oars on the same side. The two pairs are often described as rowing a bucket.

Hatchet: An innovation in the shape of the oar blade that entered the sport in 1991

Length: May refer to a margin in racing equal to the length of a boat; also can refer to a crew's or individual's rowing style

Lightweight: Refers to the rowers, not the boats. There is a maximum weight for each rower in a lightweight event as well as a boat average.

Load: Refers to the rigging parameters on the riggers and oars, which can be adjusted to either lighten or increase the load. In a headwind, a coach might lighten the load to help the athletes maintain rhythm and endurance; in a tailwind, a coach might increase the load to give the rowers a better bite.

Oar: Not a paddle. Used to drive the boat forward. The size and shape of oars is unrestricted.  

Paddle: Not an oar. Describes rowing with very little power on the oar.

Port: Left side of the shell facing forward

Power 10: A call for rowers to do 10 of their best, most powerful strokes. It's a strategy used to pull ahead of a competitor.

Puddles: The water swirls left by oars in stroke

Rating (or beat): The number of strokes taken in a minute

Recovery: The phase of the rowing stroke during which the oars are not in the water, and the rowers are returning to the catch for the next drive

Release: Also "finish." The moment in the stroke when the rowers take their oars out of the water; the end of the drive.

Repechage: The second-chance race (last-chance qualifier) that ensures that each boat has two chances to advance from preliminary races because there is no seeding in the heats

Rigger: The triangular metal device that is bolted onto the side of the boat and holds the oars

Run: The distance a shell moves during one stroke. Can be measured as the distance between the puddles made by the same oar.

Sculling: One of two disciplines of rowing. Scullers use two oars, or sculls.

Shell: Boat

Slide: The set of runners for the wheels of each seat in the boat

Starboard: The right side of the shell facing forward

Stern: The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing

Straight: Refers to a shell without a coxswain

Stretcher or footstretcher: Where the rowers' feet go. The stretcher consists of two inclined footrests that hold the rower's shoes. The rower's shoes are bolted into the footrests.

Stroke: Rower who sits closest to the stern. The stroke sets the rhythm for the boat -- others behind him must follow his cadence.

Strokemeter or stroke coach: Small electronic display which rowers attach in the boat to show the important race information like stroke rate and elapsed time

Stroke rating: Cadence; the number of rowing strokes per minute that a crew is taking. Can vary from the low 30s to the high 40s.

Sweep: One of the two disciplines of rowing in which rowers use only one oar

Swing: The hard-to-define feeling when near-synchronized motion occurs in the shell, enhancing the performance and speed

Washing: A foul charged against a crew that drifts from its lane and washes another boat with churned-up water; a rare occurrence