Preview performance of the Huntington Theatre Company's James Joyce's The Dead, September 7, 8, and 9, at the BU Theatre

Vol. V No. 3   ·   31 August 2001 


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Rowing is one of those odd sports where forward progress is made by facing backwards. I understand that a coxswain guides a team of rowers to keep them on course, but how does a single rower stay on a course that follows the bends of a river?

"There are five disciplines of rowing boats that do not have coxswains," says Holly Hatton, head coach of BU women's crew. "The three sculling boats where the rowers each have two oars are the single, double, and quad. Steering is done in these boats by a rower looking over his or her shoulder and adding pressure to the oar on the side of the boat that will send the vessel in the desired direction.

"On the winding course of the Charles River, this is done at almost every stroke on a turn and periodically on a straightaway stretch.

"The other two coxless boats are the pair and the four, where each rower has only one oar. The steering in these boats is controlled by one of the rowers, who is designated to act as the coxswain, or caller. Cables from the rudder are attached to that rower's shoes. By turning the shoe left or right, the rudder is activated. On difficult turns, when pressure on the oars needs to be applied by the rowers, this is communicated to them by the caller."

"Ask the Bridge" welcomes readers' questions. E-mail or write to "Ask the Bridge," 10 Lenox Street, Brookline, MA 02446.


31 August 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations