Weight classifications and positions of Rowers
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There are only two weight classifications in rowing; one is lightweight and the other weight classification is heavyweight / open weight. There are no weight restrictions for the latter classification.
Rowing is a sport where gaining an inch with each oar stroke will make the difference between winning or losing. Therefore, this favours tall, strong athletes with a longer arm span who can stroke quickly. The lightweight class emerged to even out the playing field for athletes who aren’t as tall or strong, providing a suitable category for them to compete in. Athletes are required to weigh in two hours before their race.
Rowers are numbered in ascending order from the bow to the stern. The first rower at the bow is called the stroke. They will set the pace of rowing and can communicate with the coxswain (if there is one) to get feedback about how the other members of their team are holding up and how far or near other boats are. During the race, it is the stroke's responsibility to maintain the stroke rate and rhythm.
The middle rowers are normally the heaviest and most powerful rowers. They act as a weight to anchor the boat, so it does not move from side to side too much. Middle rowers are like the engine of the boat, so they are also in charge of stroking as hard as they can. The last rower(s) is called the bowman. When there is no coxswain, the bowman gives calls to the crew.
In Coxless Fours, one of the rowers will steer by controlling the rudder using lines attached to the toe of their shoe. The steersman will usually sit at the bow position to have a better view of the course.
In boats with a coxswain, the coxswain’s role is to steer the boat with the rudder, inform the crew of their position throughout the race, make some tactical calls and steer the boat as well as provide motivation and encouragement throughout the race. Due to the speed and difficulty in manoeuvring, the eights always have a coxswain.
With improvements in technology, the coxswain no longer needs to shout or use the megaphone to communicate with the crew. There is a microphone system on board that allows the crew to hear the coxswain clearly.