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If you've watched the Summer Olympics, you might be familiar with rowing, but chances are, you've seen the bigger 8-person sweep boats. Yet rowing has much more to offer from its smaller shells, built for two oars instead of one. This type of rowing is called sculling! It can be done in a larger four-person shell, or it can be done in smaller more delicate shells meant for two people or even one person. Can you hear the flat water calling your name?
Sculling is a form of competitive and recreational rowing that is done with two shorter oars instead of one larger long oar, commonly used in sweep rowing. The blades of those two shorter oars enter the water on either side of the boat, propelling it forward while the rowers sit facing the stern. It is important to note that when sculling, the majority of the time, the rowers are responsible for which direction the bow turns.
But how can they be responsible for the direction the boat is traveling when their backs are facing the bow? When sculling, rowers will check over their shoulder for what is commonly referred to as a point. If the point of the boat deviates in either direction, then the rowers will power up on either the port or starboard side of the boat to correct the drift to continue traveling in a straight line.
There are three separate types of shells within sculling. A 1x, 2x and 4x.
The 1x, referred to as a single, is a shell designed to allow one person to row with maximum efficiency. It is lightweight and thin, typically weighing a maximum of 25 pounds. Rowers will commonly carry this boat themselves out of the boathouse and down to the water. Many rowers find that this boat is the most peaceful to row for recreation, as it provides an opportunity to be at one with the water and yourself.
The 2x, referred to as a double, is a shell that is built for two people to row. Each rower has two sets of oars and boat sit facing the stern. The person closest to the bow is called the bow seat and is in charge of checking the direction (or the point!) of the boat. The double is a challenging boat to row, as it requires both rowers to be in sync with not only their stroke timing but also with their body awareness and balance. The double can be rowed recreationally or competitively. Recently, the United States National Team placed 2nd in the Women's Heavyweight 2x, the highest placement for the United States in this event.
The race can be seen here courtesty of FISA World Rowing: http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/fisa/#dm9kOzkyMDI4
The 4x, referred to as a quad, is the largest sculling shell. It seats four people facing the stern of the boat and it is considered to be one of the fastest boats on the water, just shy of the speed of the all-glorious 8-person sweep boat. When all four rowers find rhythm together, the boat feels as if it is flying just above the surface of the water.
Sculling is great way to experience a total body workout, while also experiencing the peacefulness of being on the water. The health benefits of sculling are immense, as it provides toning for the back, core, legs, shoulders and arms during the activity itself. In addition to toning the muscles of the body, sculling can also provide relief from everyday stress and anxiety.
Many cities with access to a large body of water have public boathouses that offer classes to help get you off of the couch and onto the water. Don't you think it's time you took your first strokes? Challenge yourself this year to try a new adventure on the water.