Crew Composition

A rowing crew in the St. John’s Regatta requires a coxswain and six rowers. Many crews have a coach who can observe from the shore and assist with technique and conditioning.

The coxswain

ronnie-brennanThe coxswain or cox steers the boat, directs the crew, and is ‘in command’ of the boat. The main responsibilities of the cox include:

  • Crew and boat safety
  • Steering and command of the boat
  • Organizing, directing, and coaching in the boat
  • Identifying and addressing technical errors

Seating positions

The coxswain/coach will determine the seat where each rower will row. When selecting sides, some coxswains will ask the rowers which is their dominant hand. When selecting positions, the coxswain may choose the most experienced rowers in the stern (5 and 6), powerful rowers in the middle (3 and 4), and lighter rowers in the bow (1 and 2).

Seating positions in the boat – starting at the far left in the image:

Coxswain – sits in the stern of the boat (far left in the image)

Number six (aka ‘the stroke’) – sits directly behind and facing the coxswain; sets the stroke rate and rhythm for the team; ‘holds water’ when the bow side is turning the shell around the buoy (does not row)

Number five – sits behind ‘the stroke’; will follow the movements and timing of “the stroke” and will lead the oars persons on the bow side; rows the shell around the turn

Number four – sits behind number five; will follow the movements and timing of six; balances the boat when the bow side is turning the shell around the buoy (does not row)

Number three – sits behind number four; will follow the movements and timing of five; rows the shell around the turn

Number two – sits behind number three; will follow the movements and timing of four; balances the boat when the bow side is turning the shell around the buoy (does not row)

Number one – sits behind number two in the bow seat (far right position in the image above); will follow the movements and timing of number three rower; rows the shell around the turn

Rowers with even numbers are on the stroke side and rowers with odd numbers are on the bow side.

See the Rules of Rowing – Crew Composition for the rules regarding crew composition.

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