Propulsion of a boat by means of oars.

As a sport, it involves one of two kinds of boat: (1) the shell, a narrow, light racing boat propelled by eight rowers pulling single oars under the direction of a coxswain; and (2) the scull, a racing shell propelled by one or two rowers using sculls (pairs of oars). Organized racing began at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the 1820s, culminating in 1839 in the Henley Regatta (from 1851 the Henley Royal Regatta). In the U.S., Harvard and Yale universities first raced in 1851. Rowing events in the Olympic Games have been held for men since 1900 and for women since 1976.

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▪ 2006

       Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain were the top nations at the 2005 Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA) world rowing championships, held August 29–September 4 on the Nagara River in Gifu, Japan. Although the region was narrowly missed by Typhoon Mawar, racing conditions were difficult, varying from tail winds to head winds on different days. Of the 56 teams competing, 27 won at least one medal. Italy took home the most medals (10), followed by the U.S. (7), but Australia and New Zealand won the most gold, with four each. The U.S., which won in men's eights at the 2004 Athens Olympics, continued its supremacy in 2005. Great Britain and New Zealand did likewise in men's coxless fours and women's double sculls, respectively. In women's eights Australia defeated the reigning Olympic champion, Romania. New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale became the new men's single sculling champion, and Yekaterina Karsten of Belarus won the women's single sculls by 3.34 sec. Five titles were decided by less than one second, and the medalists in many finals were overlapping at the finish. Germany won women's lightweight double sculls over the U.S. by 0.30 sec, with Finland just 0.25 sec behind in third place. Great Britain defeated Germany, the 2004 Olympic champion, by 0.34 sec in women's quadruple sculls, and Poland was only 0.50 sec faster than Slovenia in men's quadruple sculls. Canada's win over Denmark in women's lightweight quadruple sculls was achieved by 0.82 sec.

      The ninth World Cup series was held in Munich; Eton, Eng.; and Lucerne, Switz. Titleholder Germany (153 points) continued undefeated, with Great Britain (111 points) in second place for the sixth year. Germany, with 12 medals (4 gold, 6 silver, and 2 bronze), also dominated at the FISA world junior championships in Brandenburg, Ger. A landslide of success by European countries in the 13 events was halted only by the U.S, which beat Germany by 1.67 sec in men's eights, and the defeat of Italy by New Zealand in women's single sculls. In the two closest finals, Germany lost by only fractions of a second to Romania in men's coxless fours and to Italy in men's quadruple sculls. The world under-23 championships, held in Amsterdam, were contested by 50 nations, of which 21 won medals.

      At the 156th Henley Royal Regatta in England, entries from eight overseas countries won 10 trophies. American Wyatt Allen of Princeton. N.J., won the Diamond Challenge Sculls (men's singles), and the crew from Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., completed a second success for the U.S. in the Temple Challenge Cup (college eights). Ireland was also a double winner in the men's quadruple sculls and the intermediate coxless fours. Germany's Dortmund Rowing Centre took the Grand Challenge Cup (top men's eights). The quadruple sculls champions were Poland in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (men), Ukraine (women), and Australia (junior). Former world champion Rumyana Neykova of Bulgaria was victorious in the women's single sculls.

 In the 151st University Boat Race, Oxford fielded the heaviest crew of all time, averaging 15 stone 6.5 lb (98.2 kg, or 216.5 lb). The Cambridge crew averaged a stone and a half (about 9.5 kg, or 21 lb) lighter. Winning by two lengths, Oxford became the fastest successful Dark Blue crew in history and reduced the Cambridge lead in the series to 78–72 with one dead heat. Later in the year one of the oldest sculling races in the world—Doggett's Coat and Badge Race—took place on the River Thames from London Bridge to Cadogan Pier in Chelsea for the 291st time since 1715.

Keith L. Osborne

▪ 2005

      The Olympic Games, which returned to their birthplace in Greece in August, took pride of place in world rowing in 2004. The buildup to the Olympics was dominated by the World Cup series, which provided three opportunities (in Poznan, Pol., Munich, Ger., and Lucerne, Switz.) for countries to evaluate their final crew selections under international racing conditions. Germany (189 points) easily won the series, with Great Britain (92 points) in second place. World championships in the 10 open classes excluded from Olympic competition were held in Banyoles, Spain, in July, combined with the world junior championships.

      At the Olympics eight nations shared the men's titles, but the six women's classes were dominated by Romania and Germany. Five titles were decided by less than a second. In men's events Great Britain, anchored by Matthew Pinsent and his pairs partner, James Cracknell, secured the closest verdict (0.08 sec over Canada) to retain the coxless fours and win its 10th Olympic medal in this class. Poland, in lightweight double sculls, was the only other defending Olympic champion to retain its title, finishing 0.53 sec ahead of France. Russia beat the Czech Republic by 0.58 sec in quadruple sculls. The U.S. regained the eights title after 30 years, by 0.87 sec. The other men's winners were Australia (coxless pairs), France (double sculls), Denmark (lightweight coxless fours), and Olaf Tufte of Norway (single sculls).

      Romania dominated the women's events with a triple success in coxless pairs, lightweight double sculls, and eights, in which team member Elisabeta Lipa gained a record eighth Olympic rowing medal. Germany retained the quadruple sculls and added the single sculls, won by Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski. Twin sisters Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell of New Zealand beat the German pair by 0.99 sec in double sculls.

      In Banyoles, Italy captured three men's events (coxed fours, coxed pairs, and lightweight quadruple sculls). France (lightweight eights), Denmark (lightweight coxless pairs), and Germany (lightweight singles) shared the other men's titles. Honours in women's events went to France (coxless fours), China (lightweight quadruple sculls), and Germany (lightweight singles). Romania excelled in the junior world championships, with four victories in men's events and one in women's. Ukraine (with two), Slovenia, and Italy were the other men's winners, while the other women's events were captured by Germany (two), Australia (two), and the Czech Republic.

      The world under-23 regatta, held in Poznan in August, also provided a glimpse of the future, with Germany achieving distinction with 8 medals in the 11 events. Great Britain (5 medals) and Australia (4) were also prominent.

      At the 155th Henley Royal Regatta in England, entries from six overseas countries won 8 of the 21 trophies. Crews from The Netherlands won the Grand Challenge and the Temple Challenge cups, and a crew from the U.S. won the Princess Elizabeth Cup (all eights). Ukraine took the Queen Mother Cup (quadruple sculls), while the Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Challenge Cup (coxless pairs) was captured by South Africa. The Princess Royal Cup (women's single sculls) went to American Cindy Bishop, and the Diamond Challenge Sculls (men's single sculls) was won by Marcel Hacker of Germany.

      The 150th University Boat Race was preceded by a vintage re-row of the original 1829 race (the race was not an annual event in the early years and was suspended during World Wars I and II), in specially built authentic replica boats of the period. It was followed by early drama in the battle of the “Blues” when the crews clashed in the fourth minute of the 2004 race, after Oxford had gained two-thirds of a length off the start. Oxford's bow man lost his blade for a few strokes as Cambridge surged ahead, going on to win by 18 seconds and stretch its lead in the series to 78–71.

      In November British Olympic champion Matthew Pinsent announced his retirement from rowing, and at year's end he was knighted in the New Year Honours list.

Keith L. Osborne

▪ 2004

      In 2003 Germany continued its overall supremacy in world rowing events, with the United States, Italy, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and Romania prominent in its wake. Germany again dominated the World Cup, the seventh series of which was held in Milan; Munich, Ger.; and Lucerne, Switz., in 2003. Germany finished with 198 points, well ahead of Great Britain (97) and Italy (87). Overall, Germany (with 407 points) led Great Britain (206) and Italy (161).

      At the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA) world championships, hosted for the first time by Italy (in Milan), half of the 47 competing nations contested the two dozen finals. Germany was the only country to reach double figures in the medal tables and finished with four championship titles. Canada, Italy, and the U.S. each scored three victories, while Australia and Denmark each won twice. The seven other gold medals went to Bulgaria, China, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, and Romania. The honours were evenly spread in women's events, with only Germany winning two golds.

      The world junior championships, which were rowed August 6–9 on the new Olympic course at Schinias, Greece, provided an unexpected foretaste of what could happen in 2004. A prevailing tailwind blew straight down the centre of the shallow course, which caused buoyancy difficulties on the opening day and swamped some of the slender racing shells after 1,250 m. Disorder turned to delay with the loss of the next day's racing, as the prevailing coastal breeze did not abate. Ultimately, the 14 finals were halved to 1,000 m to avoid the roughest water. Australia, Italy, and Romania each won two gold medals; the others went to Great Britain, The Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia. Subsequently, the Olympic organizers and FISA considered the possibility of introducing night rowing at the Olympics in the event of a repetition of the extreme conditions experienced by the juniors. Australia and Germany each captured four titles at the World Under 23 Regatta in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, in July. Romania, Italy, and China won two gold medals, with Canada, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia the other winners.

      At the 154th Henley Royal Regatta in England, overseas entries from seven countries won a dozen trophies. Canada retained the Grand Challenge Cup (eights) and won both the Remenham Cup (women's eights) and the Stewards' Cup (coxless fours). Germany took the Thames Cup (eights) and the Double Sculls cup. There was also a double triumph in eights for the U.S. in the Ladies' Plate and Temple Cup, while Ireland claimed the Men's Quadruple Sculls cup and the Visitors' Cup (coxless fours). The Queen Mother Cup (quadruple sculls) went to Poland, and Ukraine won the new Princess Grace Cup (women's quad sculls). Australian Catriona Oliver triumphed in the Princess Royal Cup (women's single sculls). The British were not shut out, as Alan Campbell won the Diamond Challenge Sculls (men's single sculls) and Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell captured two gold medals, their third consecutive (Pinsent's seventh) Silver Goblets & Nickalls Cup (coxless pairs) and the Prince Philip Cup (coxed fours).

      The 149th University Boat Race was the closest since the 1877 dead heat, with the crews overlapping all the way for 6.4 km (4 mi). Oxford gained a third of a length in the first mile before Cambridge took control and led by one second at the halfway point. Oxford regained the lead by two-thirds of a length with three minutes to go. Cambridge responded strongly with a storming last minute, closing rapidly with every stroke to finish almost level. In the end, however, Oxford won by 30 cm (one foot) to reduce Cambridge's lead in the series to 77–71.

Keith L. Osborne

▪ 2003

      World rowing moved forward in 2002 by clearly defining the path of progress from junior to full senior status following promotion by the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA) of the World Under 23 Regatta to world championship status.

      The high standard of racing at the FISA world championships in Seville, Spain, in September indicated the strength being developed for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Thirteen of the 53 nations racing in Seville shared the 24 gold medals. Three titles were decided by less than one second in men's events. Germany secured the closest verdict when it defeated Great Britain, the titleholder, in coxless fours by only 0.25 sec, but the British coxed four crew avenged this setback, winning by 2.18 sec. Germany was hard pressed by Poland to retain the quadruple sculls by 0.86 sec and finished clear of the U.S. in coxed pairs. The fourth German men's gold was won by Marcel Hacker in single sculls.

      After an earlier defeat by Australia in the World Cup series, the British coxless pair—Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell—led all the way to beat South Africa by 1.33 sec to retain their title. In eights Canada also went ahead from the start and opened up a clear lead before denying Germany another title by 1.24 sec. Hungary retained the double sculls. Italy dominated the men's lightweight events with three victories; Chile, Denmark, and Ireland were the other men's lightweight winners.

      Australia won three of the 10 women's events but lost narrowly by 0.85 sec to the United States in eights. Bulgaria won both titles in open and lightweight single sculls. The other gold medalists were Germany (quadruple sculls), Great Britain (lightweight coxless pairs), New Zealand (double sculls), and Romania (coxless pairs).

      Germany continued its unbroken supremacy in the World Cup, the sixth series of which was held in Hazewinkel, Belg.; Lucerne, Switz.; and Munich, Ger. The top nations in 2002 were Germany (67 points), Australia (50), Great Britain (28), Italy (27), and Denmark (21). Overall, Germany (209 points) led Great Britain (103) and Italy (74).

      The World Under 23 Regatta, held in Genoa, Italy, in July, was a triumph for the host nation, which captured four gold medals. Australia and Germany each won three, and there were double successes for Canada and France. The five other gold medals went to the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Romania, Spain, and the United States.

      Italy was in the forefront with eight medals, three of them gold, at the FISA world junior championships in Trakai, Lithuania, in August. Romania also earned three golds, while Australia and the Czech Republic each won twice. The other gold medalists were Belarus, France, Germany, and Latvia.

      At the 153rd Henley Royal Regatta in England, overseas entries from five countries won seven trophies. The United States reached its 100th victory when three Harvard University crews won the Ladies Plate (eights), Temple Cup (eights), and Britannia Cup (coxed fours). Canada triumphed for the first time in the Grand Challenge Cup (eights); Denmark took the Stewards Cup (coxless fours); and the Double Sculls cup went to France. A month later, at the Commonwealth rowing championships in Nottingham, Eng., the principal honours went to Australia, Canada, and England, which shared 18 titles.

      In the 148th University Boat Race, the crews overlapped, with Cambridge always less than one length ahead, for nearly 6.4 km (4 mi). Oxford forged ahead in the last three minutes, however, to win a memorable encounter by only 2/3 of a length, which reduced the Cambridge lead in the series to 77–70.

Keith L. Osborne

▪ 2002

      The preparation cycle for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens began by extending the World Cup series in 2001, with a new opening round in the U.S. in April. The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA) international rowing congress also took a step along the road to championship status for student rowing by renaming the Nations Cup the “World Under 23 Regatta.” A new regulation was introduced for the automatic removal of a boat class from the world championship program if there were fewer than seven starters for three consecutive years. A Cuban proposal to give the FISA executive discretion in sentencing first-time doping offenders was overwhelmingly rejected. FISA, almost alone among international sports federations, imposed an automatic life ban for serious doping offenses.

      Germany, winner of the team title, and Great Britain were the most successful of the 10 nations that won gold medals at the FISA world championships in Lucerne, Switz., in August. In men's events Romania captured the eights by 0.99 sec over Croatia, while France and Great Britain won the coxed and coxless fours, respectively. The German men's sole victory was in quadruple sculls. Hungary finished just 0.13 sec ahead of France in double sculls, and Olaf Tufte became Norway's first world single sculls champion by only 0.32 sec. Germany won the three sculling titles in the women's events, while Australia triumphed in eights and coxless fours, with Romania taking the coxless pairs. Ireland had triple winners in the lightweight events, with Italy claiming two titles. The remainder of the 24 gold medals at stake were won by Australia, Austria, France, Germany, and Great Britain.

      The biggest drama of the championships was provided by Great Britain's second bid for a golden double in men's coxed and coxless pairs. This had never been achieved, and Britain's previous attempt with Steven (later Sir Steve) Redgrave in the 1988 Olympic Games had only narrowly failed. James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent—two members of Redgrave's 2000 Olympic gold medal coxless fours—had already won coxless pairs in the 2001 World Cup convincingly enough to be persuaded to go for the elusive double at the world championships. With an interval of only two hours for physical recovery between finals, it was a risky challenge. The British pair led all the way to win the coxed event by 0.42 sec, but in the coxless final they were never ahead until the last stroke, where a photo finish gave them the verdict and a unique world record by 0.02 sec. It was a personal triumph for Pinsent, Redgrave's longtime partner, who had remained undefeated in world championship and Olympic rowing since 1991.

      At the 152nd Henley Royal Regatta in England, Redgrave won the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls) for his 20th Henley medal. Overseas entries from seven countries, led by Australia, harvested 11 trophies. Duncan Free of Australia took the Diamond Challenge Sculls; Australia also captured the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (eights), Henley Prize (eights), and Fawley Cup (quaduple sculls). The U.S. won twice in eights in the Ladies' Challenge Plate and the Temple Challenge Cup. The Grand Challenge Cup (eights) went to H.A.V.K. Miladost and V.K. Croatia of Croatia, while Belgium won the Thames Cup (eights). Two-time world champions Tomasz Kucharski and Robert Scez of Poland won the Double Sculls Cup. Champion women scullers included Germany in Quadruple Sculls and Yekaterina Karsten of Belarus in the Princess Royal Cup (single sculls).

      The World Cup opened with the new first round in Princeton, N.J., before the three European rounds in Seville, Spain; Vienna; and Munich, Ger. The series was dominated by Germany (172 points) and Great Britain (147). No other country scored more than 78 points.

      In the 147th University Boat Race, Cambridge avenged Oxford's interruption in 2000 of Cambridge's seven straight wins. After 20 strokes the race was stopped for the first time since 1829 before Cambridge won by 21/2 lengths to bring its overall lead in the series to 77–69.

Keith L Osborne

▪ 2001

      Although the highlight for world rowing in 2000 was undoubtedly the Olympic Games, held in September in Sydney, Australia, the sport was dominated for much of the year by the pre-Olympic buildup in the World Cup series. Introduced in 1997, this series provided an unprecedented opportunity every year for countries to reach their final crew selections under international racing conditions. The 24 titles at stake in 2000 (14 in the Olympics and 10 non-Olympic events in the world championships) were shared among 14 nations; Great Britain topped the overall table with four wins.

      At the Olympics Great Britain and France both won two titles in the men's events, while Romania with three wins and a double triumph by Germany highlighted the women's classes. In a high standard of racing, 6 of the 14 events were decided by only a fraction of a second. Great Britain won the closest men's final—in coxless fours—by only 0.38 sec over Italy. This enabled crew member Steve Redgrave to become the first person to win a gold medal in an endurance sport at five successive Olympics. At year's end it was revealed that Redgrave, who had announced he was retiring from competition, was to be knighted in 2001.

      Australia, the Olympic host, was foiled in the eights and lightweight coxless fours by only a few feet by Great Britain and France, respectively. In the coxless pairs the U.S., which led for much of the race, lost to a memorable storming breakaway by the French, with Australia squeezing into third place. Only the photo-finish camera could separate Belarus from Bulgaria by 0.01 sec in women's single sculls, while Romania held off Germany in women's eights by 0.31 sec. The four remaining men's gold medals went to Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and two-time world champion Rob Waddell of New Zealand, who won his first Olympic title in the single sculls.

      At the world championships in Zagreb, Croatia, Great Britain and the U.S. each won twice, while the other winners represented Belarus, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, and Japan. At junior level the 14 winners were Germany (5), Belarus (2), and Italy (2), with one each going to Australia, Bulgaria, France, Romania, and the U.S. In the Nations Cup—the under-23 world championships—in Copenhagen, Great Britain scored four wins, Denmark and Germany took three titles each, and the remainder went to Austria, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, the U.S., and Yugoslavia

      At the 151st Henley Royal Regatta in England, Redgrave also stole the limelight with his 19th Henley medal. Eight trophies went overseas, extending the total since 1892 to more than 300. The U.S. triumphed four times in eights—in the Ladies' Challenge Plate (Brown University, Providence, R.I.), Temple Challenge Cup (Yale University), Henley Prize (University of Washington), and Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup (St. Joseph's Preparatory School, Philadelphia, Pa.)—while Aquil Abdullah (Princeton Training Center) captured the Diamond Challenge Sculls after missing Olympic selection by one foot. The Grand Challenge Cup (eights) went to Australia, The Netherlands (ASR Nereus & DSR Laga) recorded its first win in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls), and Denmark (Denmarks Rowing Center) took the Double Sculls trophy.

      In the final of the World Cup series held in Munich, Ger.; Vienna; and Lucerne, Switz., titleholder Germany (143 points) remained undefeated, but Australia (100 points) deposed Great Britain (93 points) from second place for the first time.

      Oxford, after an epic power struggle, broke the run of seven Cambridge wins in the 146th University Boat Race to reduce the loser's overall lead in the series to 76–69.

Keith L. Osborne

▪ 2000

      Rowing completed the 1990s with a positive indication of how significantly standards of performance had risen since the introduction of lighter materials and techniques in the fabrication of faster racing equipment. This long-awaited development was followed by a significant change of attitude to training, with a universal switch from part-time workouts to intensive full-scale preparation for international competition. The change was evident in the 1999 world rowing championship at St. Catharines, Ont., where a record 59 nations with 369 boats contested the 24 events. The opportunity to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, may have boosted entries, but the quality of racing—with half the titles being won by less than two seconds—bore testimony to the high overall level of fitness. The U.S. and Germany were the leading nations, followed by Italy, Australia, and the U.K., which all showed particular strength in depth. With the 72 medals distributed among 24 nations, the era of Eastern European domination was over.

      In men's events the U.S. won three titles. After narrowly denying Germany in the coxed pairs by 0.25 sec and defeating the U.K. in the coxed fours by 1.87 sec, the Americans had to recover an earlier lead in eights to retain their title by 1.69 sec for the third successive year. The U.K., anchored by eight-time gold medalist Steven Redgrave, also retained the coxless fours for the third time, 1.44 sec ahead of Australia. Germany was foiled a second time in small boats by Slovakia in double sculls by 1.65 sec before it triumphed over Ukraine in quadruple sculls. Rob Waddell retained the single sculls for New Zealand, and Australia took the coxless pairs.

      Romania, Germany, and Canada retained the women's eights, quadruple sculls, and coxless pairs, respectively, for a third year. Germany completed a second success in double sculls, while Belarus captured the other sculling titles in singles and coxless fours. In men's lightweight classes, Italy completed a third win in quad sculls and added the double sculls, but it was pressed to 0.70 sec by China before triumphing in coxless pairs. Denmark also won coxless fours for the third year and gained a second success in single sculls. The eights was another Anglo-American encounter, which the U.S. led all the way. It also completed a double triumph in women's lightweight class in quad sculls and coxless pairs over Romania and Switzerland after finishing second to Switzerland and Romania, respectively, in single and double sculls.

      In the third World Cup competition—held in Hazewinkel, Belg.; Vienna, Austria; and Lucerne, Switz.—the top nations were as follows: Germany 136 points, the U.K. 123, Romania 78, The Netherlands 73, and France 71. Records fell in all 14 events of the world junior championships in Plovdiv, Bulg., where 10 nations shared the titles. Five gold medals went to Germany, which also took five silver medals. The other winners were Australia, Estonia, France, the U.K., Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia.

      The 150th Henley Royal Regatta in England included 86 entries from countries outside the U.K. Amendments to the qualification rules and restriction in some events to a single entry from a club or school reduced the previous year's record of 552 to 428. Five trophies went overseas. Germany triumphed in the Grand Challenge Cup (eights), Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls), Diamond Challenge Sculls (men), and Princess Royal Challenge Cup (women), while Augusta Sculling Center became the 91st winner of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup for the U.S.

      In the 145th University Boat Race, Cambridge extended its recent sequence of wins to seven with its 76th defeat of Oxford (68 wins); it had the second fastest time in the 170-year-old series.

K.L. Osborne

▪ 1999

      At the 1998 world rowing championships on their home waters in Cologne, Germany emerged as leader of the 52 nations participating in the 14 events for men and 10 for women. Italy and the U.K. finished second and third among the 14 nations sharing the titles, of which only 13 changed hands. The U.S., Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, and Romania were also prominent in the final medal table. Six championships were won by no more than one second and another 10 by less than two seconds.

      In men's heavyweight classes Germany successfully defended the double sculls and coxless pairs, and Australia also won twice in coxed fours and pairs. Rob Waddell of New Zealand became the new single sculls champion, and Italy retained the quadruple sculls with the biggest margin of the championships, 4.94 sec. Against determined opposition, Steven Redgrave captured a record eighth career title as the U.K. retained the coxless fours by 1.38 sec, with only 0.19 sec covering the next three finishes. The U.S. faced an even tougher task against Germany to retain the eights by 0.68 sec, with the next three boats in a tight pack 0.81 sec behind.

      Italy took the lightweight men's single sculls and narrowly retained the quadruple sculls. Though Denmark was pressed hard to retain the coxless fours title, Poland recaptured the double sculls more comfortably. The coxless pairs went to France, and, in the tightest finish of the championships, Germany defeated the U.S. by 0.28 sec, with Italy 0.50 sec behind, in eights.

      Germany retained its women's titles in open and lightweight quadruple sculls. Two other successful defending champions were Canada in open coxless pairs and Romania in eights. The U.K. won twice in open double sculls and lightweight coxless pairs, the U.S. took lightweight double sculls, the singles went to Switzerland, Irina Fedotova of Russia became the new single sculls champion, and Ukraine triumphed in coxless fours.

      In the World Cup competition held in Hazewinkel, Belg.; Munich, Ger.; and Lucerne, Switz.; the top five nations were: Germany 137 points, the U.K. 112, Denmark 93, Australia 86, and Romania 77. Germany won medals in all 14 events of the world junior rowing championships in Ottensheim, Austria, including six gold and six silver. Romania took two titles, and the remaining gold medals went to Argentina, Australia, China, Estonia, Russia, and Yugoslavia. In the Under-23 International for the Nations Cup in Ioannina, Greece, 31 countries competed. Italy topped the medal table with three victories, both Australia and France won twice, and Denmark and Germany each took one gold.

      The Henley Royal Regatta in England attracted a record 552 entries from countries outside the U.K., which won seven of the trophies. For the U.S. the reigning world champion, Jamie Koven, won the Diamond Challenge Sculls, Harvard University triumphed in the Ladies' Challenge Plate (eights), and the Augusta (Ga.) Sculling Center took the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls). The Silver Goblets (coxless pairs) and Double Sculls Challenge Cup went to France, which was defeated in the Grand Challenge Cup (eights) by Germany. Croatia won the Prince Philip Challenge Cup (coxed fours), and Maria Brandin (Sweden) won the women's single sculls for the fifth year.

      In the 144th Boat Race, the rowers from Cambridge became the tallest, heaviest, and fastest winners in the series when they defeated Oxford by three lengths to widen Cambridge's lead to 75-68. The winning time of 16 min 19 sec broke the record of 16 min 45 sec set by Oxford in 1984.


▪ 1998

      World rowing made significant progress in 1997 by establishing a new pattern to meet the changing needs of the sport. This was illustrated in the world championships on Lake Aiguebelette, France, where two dozen restructured rowing and sculling events attracted 981 competitors from 52 nations. The 14 events for men and 10 for women included 14 heavyweight and 10 lightweight classes. In all, 20 nations finished in the medal table. The leading nations overall were Germany, the U.S., Denmark, Italy, France, the U.K., and Australia. The U.S. headed the men's events with three titles, and whereas Germany captured four women's championships, it owed its overall supremacy to its depth in men's events. Germany and Italy won all their gold medals for sculling, and Australia, Denmark, and the U.S. were the only nations to triumph in both disciplines. The leaders in the heavyweight events were France, the U.K., Germany, and the U.S.; the best lightweights were Australia, Denmark, and Germany.

      Eight of the titles were decided by less than a second. Australia gained the closest victory in men's lightweight eights, winning by 0.03 sec over the British team, with Canada 0.88 sec farther behind. The U.S. defeated Australia by little more in men's coxed pairs—0.06 sec. Germany took the women's lightweight quadruple sculls by 0.53 sec from Canada, and the U.S. triumphed narrowly over Romania by 0.56 sec in men's eights. Denmark defeated France by the same margin in men's lightweight coxless fours, and Switzerland denied Ireland the men's lightweight coxless pairs title by 0.70 sec. The two other narrow victories were Britain's first women's heavyweight gold medal in coxless fours with 0.83 sec to spare against Romania and Germany's 0.84- sec defeat of Denmark in women's lightweight double sculls. In men's heavyweight coxless fours the British team, which outraced France by a full 3.94 sec, was anchored by Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, who had previously won the coxless pairs six times (Redgrave had also won coxless pairs twice with another partner). The duo had made the switch to coxless fours after the 1996 Olympic Games.

      The International Olympic Committee decision that rowing had to reduce its competitors in the 2000 Games in Sydney to 550 from the 606 allowed in Atlanta, Ga., in 1996 overshadowed the 1997 season. Another controversial issue was the possibility of further changes to the Olympic program, either by reduction of the number of boats or elimination of the eights altogether.

      A new international event introduced early in the regatta season was the World Cup series held in Munich, Ger.; Paris; and Lucerne, Switz. The final scores were Germany 209 points, Britain 101, Romania 88, Denmark 73, and France 70. In the world junior championships held at Hazewinkel, Belg., the outstanding countries were Germany, with five titles, and Romania, with four.

      At the Henley Royal Regatta in England, there were only four overseas winners. Australian crews won the Grand (eights) and Double Sculls challenge cups; the Augusta (Ga.) Sculling Center took the Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls); and Maria Brandin of Sweden became the first winner of the new Princess Royal Challenge Cup for women's sculls. The first all-British final of the Diamond Challenge Sculls since 1983 was won by the 1992 Olympic gold medal oarsman Greg Searle in his first season in single sculls. In the 143rd University Boat Race, Cambridge won the best contest in many years by two lengths, increasing its lead over Oxford to 74-68 in the series.


▪ 1997

      Rowing underwent a significant change in 1996, with alterations in the 14 events contested in the Olympic Games. Three of the heavyweight events that had been a traditional part of the Olympics for the previous 20 years—the men's coxed pairs and coxed fours and the women's fours—were replaced by lightweight classes, and for the first time all entrants had to qualify for the right to compete. The 10 non-Olympic events were included in the subsequent world championships in Strathclyde, Scot., where the International Rowing Federation announced plans to reduce the number of events in future championships by five. As a result, sculling events would outnumber rowing events 12-7.

      Ten nations shared the honours in the Olympic competition at Lake Lanier in Georgia. All but 2 of the 14 finals were won by less than three seconds. Australia (men's coxless fours), Germany (men's and women's quadruple sculls), and the United Kingdom (men's coxless pairs) retained their 1992 Olympic gold medals. In one of the closest races Australia won in coxless fours by 0.66 sec. Xeno Müller triumphed by only 0.45 sec to become the first men's single sculls winner from Switzerland.

      The British coxless pair led from the start to retain their title by 0.93 sec; the bowman, Steven Redgrave (see BIOGRAPHIES (Redgrave, Steven Geoffrey )), thereby became the first oarsman to win four Olympic gold medals. The Netherlands won the eights for the first time, and Italy accomplished the same feat in double sculls. In the new lightweight classes, Denmark won the coxless fours by 0.55 sec, while Switzerland gained a second success in the double sculls.

      In the women's events Australia had the closest win, the coxless pairs by 0.39 sec. Romania gained gold medals in eights and the new lightweight double sculls, while Canada (double sculls) and Belarus (single sculls) won the other classes.

      In the world championships the three discarded Olympic classes and the seven remaining lightweight events were won by seven nations. Denmark, Romania, and the United States each won twice, while the remaining titles were taken by China, France, Germany, and Italy.

      In the world junior championships, also contested at Strathclyde, Germany won three titles; Australia, Romania, and Slovenia took two each; and Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland, and Russia each won one.

      At the Henley Royal Regatta in England, there were nine overseas winners. In eights, trophies went to the Neptune Rowing Club, Ireland (Thames Cup), Yale University (Temple Cup), and Brentwood College, Canada (Princess Elizabeth Cup). A second U.S. winner was the Potomac Boat Club (Double Sculls Cup), and Germany also won twice with the Berliner Rowing Club in coxed fours (Prince Philip Cup) and the Mainzer & Neusser Rowing Club in quadruple sculls (Queen Mother Cup). Wiking of Austria triumphed in coxless pairs (Silver Goblets), while The Netherlands was also a double winner with W.S.R. Argo in coxless fours (Visitor's Cup) and M.L.O. Vervoorn capturing the Diamond Challenge Sculls. In the 142nd University Boat Race, Cambridge won by 2 3/4 lengths to increase its lead over Oxford to 73-68 in the series. (K.L. OSBORNE)

▪ 1996

      The United States and Italy were the most successful nations in world rowing in 1995, with each winning a total of five titles. Following with double successes each were Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Canada, and Australia. The remaining winners were Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Sweden.

      In the world championships at Tampere, Fin., the standard was exceptionally high, with 22 countries sharing the medals. Eight of the reigning champions retained their titles in the 24 events. The margin of victory was less than two seconds in 15 races, and the biggest winning margin was little more than three seconds.

      Italy took the honours in men's events with three wins. It narrowly defeated Great Britain by 0.61 sec to retain the coxless fours and successfully defended the quadruple sculls by 1.54 sec against Germany. Its third triumph, in coxed pairs, was achieved more comfortably, by 2.86 sec. The U.S. was 1.15 sec too fast for New Zealand in coxed fours but lost its eights title to Germany, with The Netherlands taking second place. Great Britain triumphed for the third consecutive year in coxless pairs, while Denmark and Germany foiled Norway's bid to retain the double sculls. In single sculls Iztok Cop (Slovenia) unexpectedly captured the title by the slender margin of 0.55 sec from the 1990 champion, Juri Jaanson (Estonia). Only seven weeks earlier Cop had lost to Jaanson by 1.14 sec in the World Cup final in Lucerne, Switz.

      In the men's lightweight events, Italy won two more titles. It retained the coxless pairs and defeated Denmark, the defending champion, by 1.37 sec in coxless fours. Great Britain and Australia successfully defended their titles in the single and quadruple sculls, respectively, but Denmark foiled Great Britain's bid to retain the eights by 2.25 sec. Switzerland beat Sweden by 1.27 sec to become the first winner of the new double sculls event.

      The U.S. was foremost in the women's events. It defeated Germany by 1.60 sec in coxless fours and Romania by 2.03 sec in eights but lost to Australia by 2.20 sec in coxless pairs. Canada narrowly defeated The Netherlands by 0.08 sec in double sculls, and the other winners were Germany (quadruple sculls) and Sweden (single sculls). In lightweight classes the U.S. won twice over Great Britain, by 1.26 sec in coxless fours and by more than 3 sec in coxless pairs. Australia took the single sculls, while Canada retained the double sculls by a margin of 0.83 sec over Denmark.

      In the under-23 international championships in Groningen, Neth., nine nations shared the honours in 18 classes. Germany won three of the men's titles, Great Britain claimed two, and Australia, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, and Yugoslavia gained one apiece. Germany dominated the seven women's events with five wins, leaving Romania and Sweden to take the other titles.

      Germany won 9 of the 14 gold medals in the world junior championships in Poznan, Poland. Australia took two titles, and France, Denmark, and Italy won one each. The minor medals were shared by 17 nations, including three each for Croatia and Spain.

      At the Henley Royal Regatta in England, there were five overseas winners and 24 new records. In eights the Grand Challenge Cup went to San Diego (Calif.) Training Center, and there was a second success for the U.S. by Augusta (Ga.) Training Center in quadruple sculls. Australia triumphed in the double sculls, while Jaanson captured the Diamond Challenge Sculls. Oarsmen from seven countries rowed in the 141st University Boat Race, which Cambridge won by four lengths to lead Oxford 72-68 in the series. (K.L. OSBORNE)

▪ 1995

      Italy, winning four titles, was the most successful nation in world rowing during 1994. Germany and Great Britain each won three, and Denmark, Romania, and the United States took two apiece. Winners of the remaining championships were Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway.

      At the world championships at Indianapolis, Ind., in September, records fell in seven men's and women's events. Only seven of the reigning champions retained their titles in the 23 events. Nine of the winners had a victory margin of less than one second, and all three medalists finished within two seconds of one another in eight finals.

      Italy took the honours in the men's events by winning the coxless fours in record time over France by 1.38 sec and breaking a second record with the defeat of Ukraine by 1.43 sec in quadruple sculls. However, a try for a third championship, in coxed pairs, was foiled narrowly by Croatia by 0.82 sec in another record time. Romania retained the coxed fours title by only 0.29 sec over the U.S., with The Netherlands 0.75 sec farther behind in the closest finish of the championships. Great Britain rowed Germany down to retain the coxless pairs by 1.10 sec in another record time. Germany was prominent in sculls, winning the singles but losing the doubles to Norway by 0.55 sec. The last men's record fell to the U.S., which mastered The Netherlands by just 0.60 sec for its first win in eights in seven years.

      Italy won its last two titles in the men's lightweight coxless pairs and double sculls. In other lightweight competition Austria retained the quadruple sculls, Denmark took the coxless fours, and Great Britain completed a double triumph by successfully defending the single sculls title and producing the closest finish of the regatta in winning the eights by 0.36 sec over Denmark.

      France and New Zealand retained, respectively, the coxless pairs title and the double sculls title in women's events, while The Netherlands beat the U.S. by 1.16 sec in coxless fours. Denmark took the single sculls in record time. Germany won quadruple sculls and a second title, in eights, by 0.82 sec at the expense of the U.S. In lightweight events the U.S. struck gold by defeating Great Britain, the defending champions, by 0.88 sec in coxless fours. Canada retained the double sculls, and Romania took the single sculls.

      At the under-23 international championships in Paris, Germany won 6 of the 18 gold medals, Italy took 4, and 3 went to Denmark. The five other winners were Great Britain, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S.

      Germany was once again the dominant nation in the world junior championships on home waters in Munich, winning 6 of the 14 titles. Romania and Switzerland won two each, while the other winners were Australia, France, Italy, and Russia.

      At the Henley Royal Regatta in England, there were nine overseas winners. In eights competition the Grand, Thames, and Princess Elizabeth challenge cups along with the Ladies' Challenge Plate went to the U.S. Ireland triumphed in the Britannia Challenge Cup (coxed fours), and Hungary scored a first Henley win, in the Double Sculls Cup. The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (quadruple sculls) went to Germany and the Stewards' Challenge Cup (coxless fours) to France. Xeno Muller captured the Diamond Challenge Sculls for Switzerland. In the 140th University Boat Race, Cambridge decisively increased its lead in the series to 71—three more than Oxford. (KEITH OSBORNE)

▪ 1994

      Canada and Great Britain, with four titles each, were the most successful nations in world rowing in 1993. They were followed by France—with its first successes since 1962—and Germany, which each won three titles. China and Romania each took two championships, while the remaining winners were Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.S.

      In the world championships at Roudnice, Czech Republic, only two of the reigning champions and four of the 1992 Olympic gold medalists retained their titles. The standard of competition was high, with a dozen of the 23 events being decided by less than two seconds and only three by more than three seconds.

      Great Britain took the honours in men's events by retaining its Olympic titles in coxed and coxless pairs and then adding its first win in world lightweight single sculls. Steve Redgrave and his Olympic partner, Matthew Pinsent, defeated Germany by 1.53 sec in coxless pairs, while the Searle brothers repeated their Olympic triumph over the Abbagnale brothers of Italy in coxed pairs by 2.09 sec. There was drama in the lightweight singles when Peter Haining lost his lead after hitting a marker buoy 40 strokes from the finish. He dropped to third place before fighting back to capture the title by 1.32 sec.

      The French rowers won two titles, their best performance in 31 years. They beat Poland by 2.09 sec in coxless fours and Norway more comfortably by 3.73 sec in double sculls. In addition to the two British pairs, the only other reigning Olympic champions to win world titles were the Romanian coxed four and the German quadruple scullers. Germany retained its world eights title after holding off Romania by 2.25 sec, with the U.S. another 2.14 sec behind.

      Canada won men's titles in lightweight eights and heavyweight single sculls, while Spain took the lightweight coxless pairs. The most exciting finishes came in the lightweight coxless fours and double sculls. The U.S. held off Switzerland by 0.72 sec in fours, and Australia denied Switzerland the double sculls title by 0.09 sec.

      In the women's events there was another tight finish when China defeated the U.S. in coxless fours by 0.66 sec. China also won the quadruple sculls by a comfortable 4.24 sec over Germany. Canada also took two titles, in the single and double sculls, while Great Britain won the coxless fours after finishing second in the two preceding years. In coxed fours France beat Australia to gain its third title in the championships, and Germany took its third gold medal in the single sculls. New Zealand collected its third gold medal in double sculls, while Romania scored its second success by 1.54 sec over the U.S. in eights.

      Germany dominated the world junior championships at Arungen, Norway, by winning all but 2 of the 14 titles. Australia and Norway were the remaining gold medalists, while 13 other nations shared the silver and bronze medals. Italy took six and Romania four, but no other country managed more than three.

      At the Henley Royal Regatta in England, there were five overseas winners. The Grand Challenge Cup (eights) and the Diamond Sculls went to Germany; Brisbane (Australia) Boys' College won the Princess Elizabeth Cup (eights); and a double triumph for the U.S. was recorded by Harvard University in the Britannia Cup (coxed fours) and Brown University in the Ladies Plate (eights). In the 139th University Boat Race, Cambridge recorded its 70th win in the series—two more than Oxford. (KEITH OSBORNE)

* * *

▪ boat propulsion and sport
 propulsion of a boat by means of oars. As a sport, it involves watercraft known as shells (usually propelled by eight oars) and sculls (two or four oars), which are raced mainly on inland rivers and lakes. The term rowing refers to the use of a single oar grasped in both hands, while sculling involves the use of two oars, one grasped in each hand.

      In competitive rowing the oar is a shaft of wood with a rounded handle at one end and a shaped blade at the other. The shaft usually consists of two halves hollowed out and glued together in order to save weight and increase flexibility. The blade—a thin broadened surface—is either flat or slightly curved at the sides and tip to produce a firm grip of the water. The loom, or middle portion of the oar, rests either in a notch or oarlock (rowlock) or between thole pins on the gunwale (top edge) of the boat in order to serve as a fulcrum of the oar. The loom is protected against wear in this area of contact by a short sleeve of leather or plastic. Oars have fixed leather or adjustable metal or plastic collars, called buttons, to prevent slippage outboard. In sculling, the oars are called sculls.

      Rowing began as a means of transportation. Galleys, used as war vessels and ships of state, prevailed in ancient Egypt (on the Nile River) and subsequently in the Roman Empire (on the Mediterranean) from at least the 25th century BC to the 4th century AD. Rowing was also an important adjunct to sailing for the Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Norwegians in their waterborne military forays. Rowing in England, of both small boats and barges, began on the River Thames as early as the 13th century and resulted in a company of watermen who transported passengers up, down, and across the Thames in and near London. Wagering by passengers in different boats by the 16th century led to races, at first impromptu and later organized. By the early 18th century there were more than 40,000 liveried watermen. Doggett's Coat and Badge, an organized watermen's race, has been held annually since 1715. The watermen were, of course, professionals, and the regattas, programs of racing, held throughout the 18th century were also professional. A similar form of racing by ferrymen in the United States began early in the 19th century.

 Rowing in six- and eight-oar boats began as a club and school activity for amateurs about this time in England and somewhat later in the United States. Organized racing began at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the 1820s, culminating in 1839 in the Henley Regatta (from 1851 the Henley Royal Regatta), which has continued to the present. Rowing as sport developed from the 1830s to the '60s in Australia and Canada and during the same period became popular throughout Europe and in the United States. (Harvard and Yale universities first raced in 1851; the first open regatta for amateurs was held in 1872.) Throughout the century professional sculling was a popular sport.

      Local and national organizations, amateur and professional, were formed in this period, and in 1892 the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA; the International Rowing Federation) was founded. Events in rowing (for crews of eight, four, and two) and in sculling were established. In races for eights and for some fours and pairs, there is also a coxswain, who sits at the stern, steers, calls the stroke, and generally directs the strategy of the race. Rowing events in the Olympic Games have been held for men since 1900 and for women since 1976.

The course and equipment
   Under FISA rules, all races take place over a 2,000-metre (6,560-foot) straight course on still water, each crew or sculler racing in a separate, buoy-marked lane. Racing shells range in overall length from 18.9 metres (62 feet) for an eight, 13.4 metres (44 feet) for a four, and 10.4 metres (34 feet) for a pair, to 8.2 metres (27 feet) for a single scull. There are no specifications for weight, which varies according to materials used and ranges from 14 kilograms (30.8 pounds) for a scull to 96 kg (212 pounds) or more for a shell for eights. The size, shape, and weights of oars are also not specified, but they are generally about 4 metres (13 feet) in length and weigh about 3.6 kg (8 pounds).

      Events classified as lightweight are for women rowers not exceeding 59 kg (130 pounds) and men rowers not exceeding 72.5 kg (160 pounds). All rowers must weigh in between one and two hours before a race.

Stroke and style of training
      The racing stroke begins with the entry of the oar blade into the water (the catch). The stroke underwater follows, and then the travel of the blade out of the water (the recovery). Turning the blade horizontally by wrist motion as the oar handle is depressed to raise the blade clear of the water at the beginning of the recovery is called feathering. The extraction of the blade after driving the boat through the water is called the finish. Turning of the blade from horizontal to vertical in preparation for the catch is called squaring.

      Early fixed-seat rowing used the English stroke: body swing produced most of the power, the arms being used mainly to transfer the weight of the body to the oar. With the introduction of the sliding seat (1857 in the United States; 1871 in England), leg drive was added. Later style changes introduced by Steve Fairbairn in 1881 emphasized leg drive and arm pull. The German coach Karl Adam in the 1950s produced good results when he introduced new training methods (Fartlek) based on Fahrtspiel (“speed play”), originally used for training runners, and on interval training (short sprints alternated with long runs).

Additional Reading
Gilbert C. Bourne, A Text-book of Oarsmanship (1925, reissued 1989), describes the theory and art of rowing, oar and boat design, coaching, and muscular action. Desmond Hill, Instructions in Rowing (1963), is a comprehensive guide for coaching rowers from beginners upward. Ronnie Howard and Nigel Hunt, Knowing Rowing (1977); and D.C. Churbook, The Book of Rowing (1988), provide illustrated introductions.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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