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the art of propelling a boat by means of oars operated by hand. Boats propelled by oars (e.g., the galleygalley,
long, narrow vessel widely used in ancient and medieval times, propelled principally by oars but also fitted with sails. The earliest type was sometimes 150 ft (46 m) long with 50 oars.
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) were used in ancient times for both war and commerce. Rowing is now generally used only for propelling small boats or for sport. One of the oldest continuous sporting events in the world is the Doggett's Coat and Badge rowing race, held in London every year since 1716 and named for Thomas Doggett, a popular actor of early 18th cent. England. The most famous of all rowing races are the Thames River competitions between Oxford and Cambridge, first held at Henley in 1829. The first collegiate rowing regatta in the United States took place in 1852 between Harvard and Yale. In modern racing, each member of the rowing team, or crew, uses both hands to pull one oar through the water. The oars, attached to riggings jutting out from the side of the boats to increase leverage, are positioned alternately on opposite sides of the vessel. The boat, or shell, is sometimes steered by a coxswain, who sits at the back of the vessel and manipulates tiller ropes attached to a rudder; the coxswain also directs the speed and rhythm of the crew's strokes. Sculling is a variant of rowing in which the rower controls two oars, one in each hand. Sculling teams consist of one, two, or four members; rowing crews have two, four, or eight members, with or without a coxswain. Rowing and sculling events for men have been included in the Olympic games since 1900; women's races were first run in 1976.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a competitive sport of boats that are narrow (the width of a singles boat is 30 cm; an eight-oared boat, 60 cm) and have oarlocks (located outside the boat) and movable thwarts (seats). The vessels may be sweep-oar boats (athletes are distributed evenly along both sides; each rows with a single oar) or sculls (each rows with two oars). Races are held along a straight route, mostly a distance of 2.000 m for men, 1,000 m for women, 1.500 m for boys, and 800 m for girls. Records are not kept in rowing, since the results even on the same route change sharply, depending on the wind direction and the condition of the water. Competitions are held in sculls—single, double, quadruple with coxswain (only for women) and without coxswain (since 1970, for men only)— and sweep-oar boats—pairs with coxswain and without coxswain for men (and since 1970 for women), fours with coxswain, fours without coxswain (only for men), and eights with coxswain.

Rowing began in Great Britain, where competitions were first held in the 1820’s; in the mid-19th century rowing became popular in North America, Europe, and Australia. In Russia the first club (the St. Petersburg River Yacht Club) was founded in 1860. The first USSR championship in rowing was held in 1923. Women began rowing competitively in the USSR in the 1920’s, and abroad, in the 1950’s. Since 1900 rowing has been included in the program of all Olympic Games (men’s competition). A competition for the championship of Europe has been held for men since 1893 (annually until 1963, and since 1963 every other year), and for women since 1954 (annually). World championships began in 1962 (once every four years, for men). Rowing has received the most development in Australia, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic. Great Britain. Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the USA, and the USSR.

The best Soviet rowers include A. M. Dolgushin, many-time USSR champion in single sculls; V. N. Ivanov, world champion (1962) and three-time Olympic champion (1956, 1960, 1964) in single sculls; Iu. S. Tiukalov (champion of the 1952 Olympics in single sculls) and A. N. Berkutov, Olympic champions (1956) and five-time champions of Europe in double sculls; G. M. Samorodova-Konstantinova, five-time European champion in women’s single sculls; the eight-woman team Kryl’ia Sovetov and Trud, eight-time European champions (1955–62); and the eight-man team Kryl’ia Sovetov, three-time European champions (1953–55) and silver-medal winner of the Olympics (1952). The development of the Soviet school of rowing is associated with the names of such leading coaches as A. N. Shebuev, A. M. Shvedov. P. A. Pakhomov, I. N. Poliakov, M. A. Savri-movich. B. S. Brechko, A. D. Smirnov. A. N. Nikolaev, and E. I. Vaitkevičius.

Widely known among foreign rowers are three-time Olympic champion P. Costello (USA; 1920. 1924, 1928); K. Papp (Hungary), four-time European champion (1958–61) in single sculls; the Australian S. MacKenzie, two-time European champion (1957. 1958); and the eight-man team of the Rat-zeburg Rowing Club (FRG; K. Adam, coach), champions of Europe(l959. 1963–65. 1967). the world (1962, 1966), and the Olympics (I960. 1968).

In the USSR the organization and development of rowing is headed by the Rowing Federation of the USSR, which since 1952 has belonged to the International Federation of Rowing Societies, which was founded in 1892 and unites (as of Jan. 1, 1971) the national federations of 49 countries.


Grebnoi sport. Edited by S. K. Fomin. Moscow, 1966.
Shvedov, A. M., and A. N. Shebuev. Akademicheskaia greblia: Vpomoshch’ treneru. Moscow, 1957.
Akademicheskaia greblia. Moscow. 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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