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  • Rowing

    The Canadian Encyclopedia
    Author ROGER JACKSON

    Rowing is a sport of propelling boats or specially designed racing shells with oars on water. Shells are usually classified for either sculling (2 oars, or sculls, one in each hand) or rowing (one oar, held by both hands). Sculling shells include the single, double and quadruple, used by 1, 2 and 4 people respectively. Rowing shells include the pair (with or without coxswain), 4s (with or without coxswain) and an 8 (with coxswain).

    Racing shells are lightweight, slender but strong craft with hulls less than 3 mm thick and commonly made of mahogany, cedar, fibreglass or carbon fibre; their frames are made of lightweight hardwood. Shells are equipped with sliding seats and with "shoes" attached firmly to the frame that allow the seated rower to slide forward into a powerful crouch position at the start of the stroke. Oars vary in length, weight and blade design, according to their use for rowing or sculling, the strength and size of the rower, and individual preference.

    Rowing as a sport began at least as far back as 450 BC. There are artistic and written representations linking the sport to many ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Japanese. England, however, was the birthplace of modern rowing equipment and regattas as we know them today. Perhaps the oldest sculling race was instituted on the Thames River in 1715 by the Irish comedian Doggett. The sport was introduced to Canada gradually as Englishmen immigrated to the North American colonies in the early 19th century.

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