Rowing is a speed sport in narrow wooden or composite boats, where the athlete sits on a sliding seat above the water level and faces backwards, using oars operating as levers of the second type to move the boat. Outriggers are used to increase the leverage of the oars. The outriggers must be fixed to the boat. We distinguish between rowing or sweep rowing (one oar per rower) and sculling (two sculls per rower). Rowing boats can be coxed (steered by a coxswain) or coxless.
The first rowing races, in the second half of the 18th century were races between bargemen on the River Thames in England. Subsequently, rowing became popular as an amateur sport. From the first University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge on the River Thames, student rowing has become increasingly popular. In the Anglosaxon world, there is also a sizeable school rowing community.
Rowing today is governed by the FISA, the International Federation of Rowing Associations. At World Championship level, sculling races include quadruple sculls (four rowers), double sculls (two rowers) and singles (one rower), rowing races include the coxed eight (or eight), coxed and coxless fours and coxless pairs (occasionally coxed pairs are rowed). Men's and women's rowing are about equally popular. There are lightweight men's (<72,5) and lightweight women's (<57,5) races. Races are held over 2000 metres. Strong rowing nations include the UK, the USA, France, Germany, Australia. Well-known rowers of the recent years include Sir Steve Redgrave (GB), who won Olympic golds in five successive Olympics in the coxless pair and the coxless four, Rob Waddell (NZ) and Xeno Muller(CH), opponents in the single sculls, Ekaterina Karsten (BLR) in women's single sculls, Katrin Boron (D) in women's double sculls and quadruples.
One piece of equipment commonly used when training for rowing, the 'indoor rower' or 'erg', has become popular as a sport in its own right.