Types of Rowing

Find out more about the many different types of rowing by clicking on the images below.

Fine Stable Indoor Coastal Surf
Gig Ocean Touring Adaptive Skiffing



Fine Boats

The sliding-seat fine boat, also known as the Olympic class boat, is the familiar racing shell that you will see rowed or sculled at inland competitions. In 'sweep' boats, each rower has one oar (or blade). In 'sculling' boats, the oarsmen use two oars. The fine boats in common usage have one, two, four, or eight seats. The eights always have a coxswain (cox) to steer and direct the crew.

Stable boat

Stable Boats

These wider and more stable sliding-seat boats are ideal for a whole range of rowing activities and challenges. They are also proving very popular with beginners and many clubs are using them for Learn to Row courses, available at Explore Rowing clubs and other clubs across the country.


Indoor Rowing

Indoor rowing is taking off across the country as an individual sport, as well as continuing to be a training aid for water based-rowing and other sports. Indoor rowing has its own competitions and events and is easily accessible, with machines often being seen in gyms, sports centres and rowing clubs across the country.




The clubs and associations practising ‘sliding-seat coastal rowing’ are mainly found along the south coast of the UK and the Channel Islands. Coastal boats are specifically designed for the rougher conditions found on the seas and estuaries and coastal racing is not just about speed and skill, but also about handling the potentially tricky water and weather conditions.





Surf rowing is mainly found along the coast of Cornwall and South Wales and was imported to UK in 1965 from the surf life-saving clubs in Sydney, Australia. Racing is fast and furious - beginning on the beach, with the crews battling out through the surf and back. Four rowers are steered by the 'Sweep'.


Pilot Gigs

Gigs are fixed-seat, six oared, clinker-built boats, that are 32-feet long and four-feet 10-inches wide. They are made of Cornish narrow leaf elm, which is fastened by copper nails. Today's gigs are no longer working boats but are used purely for pleasure and racing around Cornwall and the West Country, which has become a popular pastime.




Ocean rowing offers a highly challenging and exciting adventure which is being undertaken by more and more rowers. There are now organised races across the world's largest oceans, which has seen the popularity of ocean rowing increase exponentially over the last two decades.




The fixed-seat recreational rowing boats are more stable than fine racing boats, making it easier to learn basic technique and less likely that you will fall out. Recreational rowing is open to all and there are clubs up and down the country offering both recreational rowing and the opportunity to try your hand at long distance or touring rowing.




Rowabiltiy is British Rowing's programme for removing barriers to participation in the sport for anyone who has a physical, sensory or learning impairment. Advances in the equipment available for rowers with a disability and the ever-increasing number of accessible rowing venues has meant that rowing is truly becoming a sport for all.



Skiff Racing

A Thames Racing Skiff is a traditional hand-built sculling craft of a design which has been seen on the Thames and other waterways for over 100 years, and which remains virtually unchanged. Skiffs are raced by a number of enthusiastic clubs, mostly based on the Thames, at regattas and other events throughout the year. Skiff racing in the UK is governed by the Skiff Racing Association - for more information, visit www.skiffing.org.uk.


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