Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Have you been to a regatta, and looked at the schedule of events, and wondered what in the world all of those abbreviations meant? We put together a quick reference guide to help you understand what exactly you are seeing when looking at one!
Coxed Pair (2+) Two sweep rowers with a coxswain.
Coxless Pair (2-) Two sweep rowers without a coxswain.
Coxed Four (4+) Four sweep rowers with a coxswain.
Straight (or Coxless) Four (4-) Four sweep rowers without a coxswain. Steering is usually accomplished via a rudder that is attached to a cable that is connected to one of the rower’s foot stretchers (this an adjustable bracket to which the rower’s feet are secured). The coxless pair has a similar type of rudder setup.
Eight (8+/8o) Eight sweep rowers with a coxswain. Eights are 60+ ft (~18.5 m) long and weigh about 250 pounds (~114 kg).
Sculling Boats (each rower has two oars) – Only in rare cases do these boats have a coxswain. Steering is generally accomplished by applying more power or pressure to the oar(s) on one side of the shell. The hands overlap (usually left over right in the US) during part of the rowing cycle, or are always left in front of right.
Single (1X) One rower or sculler. Singles are about 26 ft (8 m) long and less than a foot (0.3 m) wide. Racing singles can weigh as little as 30 pounds (~13.5 kg). There are heavier (~45 to 50 pounds), shorter and wider versions often referred to as recreational singles.
Double (2X) Two scullers. Most racing doubles can be also used as a pair with a different set of riggers designed for sweep oars. When used as a pair a rudder is usually added. There are also recreational versions of sculling doubles.
Quadruple (4X) Four scullers. Often referred to as a `quad’ and usually has a rudder attached to one of the sculler’s foot stretchers as in the straight four. Most quads can also be rigged as a straight four using a different set of riggers.
Octuple (8X) Eight scullers. This is rarely seen, though is used in the UK, at least, in junior competition where sweep rowing is not allowed.