Athletes & Parents

Rowing Disciplines

Getting to Know Rowing

The are two styles of rowing which rowers compete in – Sculling and Sweeping. Two-oared sculling is a form of rowing in which a boat is propelled by one or more rowers, each of whom operates two oars, one held in the fingers and upper palm of each hand. Sweeping, or sweep-oar rowing, is a type of rowing when a rower has one oar, held with both hands. As each rower has only one oar, the rowers have to be paired so that there is an oar on each side of the boat.

There are four basic disciplines of rowing that Ontario residents enjoy – flatwater rowing, indoor rowing, coastal rowing, and row touring. While flatwater remains the most well-known and popular discipline both indoor and coastal rowing are growing segments of the sport, while row touring has established a strong base of participants Ontario since its inception in the 1990’s. Clubs across Ontario offer many different programs for both new and veteran rowers alike in each discipline, with participants typically training in programs that are designed based on age and development stage.

Flatwater Rowing

Flatwater rowing is typically what you would picture when you think of rowing. Set on a flat waterway, boats propelled by up to eight people travel in a straight line during training sessions and competitions. It is the most popular rowing discipline throughout the world at all levels of the sport, from beginners to masters competitors to Olympic athletes.

Indoor Rowing

Found at local rowing clubs, community centres, and rowing studios, indoor rowing programs are offered all across Ontario. Individuals use the rowing machine all year round and each year indoor rowing events are hosted in communities around Ontario, typically in the winter months. Sometimes known as Ergometer rowing after the name of the equipment used for this type of sport, indoor rowing has been widely used in training and preparation of athletes for many years. In recent years indoor rowing has grown from a tool for off-the-water training for the serious rower to a sport in its own right.

Coastal Rowing / Beach Sprints

Coastal Rowing and Beach Sprints represents the adventure side of the sport. Unlike flatwater rowing, it takes place on rough water – on the sea, lakes and rivers where the water is less predictable. This discipline of rowing has one of the fastest growing communities of rowers and is popular in many countries, particularly in Europe. Rowing on rough water means that coastal rowing is quite different from the flatwater Olympic-style of going in a straight line. Coastal rowers instead, often prefer rough water which adds a whole new dimension to the sport with many coastal rowers cherishing the exhilarating aspect of rowing in extreme conditions.

Row Touring

Row touring has been practised on Ontario’s rivers, canals and lakes since 1995. Generally tourers row between 20 and 40 kilometres in a day, going down the waterway in tour boats and/or coastal boats. Touring quads and doubles are stable, contain storage space and have a keel making them ideal for inland waters – the Rideau and Trent Canals as well as the Muskoka and Kawartha Lakes are popular waterways for row touring in Ontario. Coastal boats have a fin, are self-bailing with limited storage capacity. Coastal quads and doubles are well suited for the Great Lakes. Row touring on Europe’s canals and rivers is also very popular – with clubs sponsoring one or two tours in Europe throughout year.

Most of the row touring in Ontario has been organized by the Ontario Adventure Rowing Association (OAR). Ontario Clubs, under the aegis of OAR, hold 10 – 12 tours in a given year.

It is recommended to go on regional tours before trying international touring. The pinnacle of row touring is the FISA World Tour held once or twice each year. Experienced row tourers should apply through Rowing Canada Aviron for the FISA World Tour.