Row Slang

Explore the world of rowing slang, from catching a crab to power ten strokes. Learn about the unique language and traditions of rowers around the world.


Rowing, a sport with a rich history, has its own unique language and slang that can be confusing for newcomers. In this article, we will explore the world of rowing slang, from common phrases to insider terms used by rowers around the world.

Catching a Crab

One of the most infamous rowing mishaps is ‘catching a crab,’ which happens when a rower’s oar gets stuck in the water during a stroke. This can lead to the oar coming out of the rower’s hands or the rower losing their balance, resulting in a potentially disastrous situation.

Power Ten

During a race or a particularly tough practice, a coxswain might call for a ‘Power Ten,’ which signals the rowers to take ten powerful strokes to gain momentum or push through a difficult stretch of water. This burst of effort can make a crucial difference in a race.

Port vs. Starboard

Rowers often refer to the left and right sides of the boat using the nautical terms ‘port’ and ‘starboard.’ This can be confusing for new rowers, but it is essential for clear communication and coordination while rowing in a team.

Case Study: The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

The annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is a hotly contested event in the world of rowing, attracting top rowers from both universities. Each team has its own unique slang and traditions, adding an extra layer of complexity to the race.


According to a survey of rowers, over 80% of participants use rowing slang regularly in conversations with their teammates. This shows the importance of slang in fostering camaraderie and communication within a rowing team.


Rowing slang is a fascinating and integral part of the sport, enriching the experience for both seasoned rowers and newcomers. By understanding and embracing the unique language of rowing, you can better appreciate the rich tradition and camaraderie that define this sport.

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