The Sport of Rowing

From earliest times people have traveled across water, using paddles or oars to propel themselves. From the simplest rafts and dugout canoes to the multi-tiered galleys of the Egyptians, rowing provided an adequate method of propulsion although it was not as efficient as sails. The earliest records of large vessels which used manpower in this way date to the fourth millennium BC in Egypt. Subsequently, the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and the Norsemen all built vessels which employed the use of oars. Rowing continued to be in common use until the end of the Middle Ages and there were still some large galleys rowed in the Mediterranean Sea until the eighteenth century.

Rowing as a Sport

Although early rowers raced their galleys, creating one of the earliest forms of competitive sport, modern rowing developed in England as a result of the popular use of the Thames River as a medium for transport.

In 1715 Thomas Doggett, an Irish comedian, sponsored a race from London Bridge to Chelsea, known as 'Doggett's Coat and Badge', which has been a regular event ever since, except during the World Wars. The first English regatta was held on the Thames in 1775, with amateur rowing competitions originating about 1817.

Rowing is described in various terms.

Stroking is the use of one oar, pivoted on the side of the boat, whereas sculling is the use of two oars by the one oarsman. Boats used for competitive racing are called shells and may vary between seven meters in length for a single craft to fifteen meters for a craft carrying a crew of eight. An eight-man crew is able to propel a craft at speeds of up to 20 km per hour.

Rowing was included as an Olympic sport after 1900 and competition involves single and double sculling teams and five different sweep-oared teams. The most famous of all rowing races is the annual Oxford versus Cambridge classic, which originated in 1829, over a course of approximately seven kilometers on the Thames River. There is also an international race held annually at Henley-on-Thames, England between several different classes over a distance of about two kilometers. Other countries conduct their own races, most of which are designed around the competition which originated in England.

More by this Author

  • Binoculars

    Binoculars is an optical instrument, for use with both eyes simultaneously, that produces a magnified image of a distant object or scene. It consists of a pair of identical telescopes, one for each eye, both containing...

  • Olympic Biathlon

    Biathlon, a combination of nordic cross-country ski racing and rifle shooting, developed from a form of military training in northern Europe. World championships began in 1958 and Olympic inclusion dates from 1960. The...

  • The White House

    The White House as it appears from the north. Photograph by David Lat. The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States, located in Washington, D.C. It is on Pennsylvania Avenue facing...

Comments 1 comment

agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

People, specially students of a university in my city do this sport in the river. It's nice to see them practicing.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article