Frequently Asked Qustions

  • This page is intended to list all frequently asked questions by new students, parents and returning students.


    1. What are the top 10 things I should know about rowing?
    2. Where can I find more information about Hylton Crew?
    3. Why doesn't Prince William County Schools row as a team in the fall?
    4. Who are some student rowers I can talk to about crew?
    5. What is the right body size for crew?
    6. Why should I join crew?
    7. When is CREW season?
    8. When is the next sign up for Hylton Crew?

    1. What are the top 10 things I should know about crew ?


    According to the U.S. Rowing Association:

    1. Rowers are among the world’s best athletes. Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it is done well. Don’t be fooled. Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically fit athletes for nothing. The sport demands endurance, strength, balance, mental discipline, and an ability to continue on when your body is demanding that you stop.
    2. Total Body workout. Rowing only looks like an upper body sport. Although upper body strength is important, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs. Rowing is one of the few athletic activities that involves all of the body’s major muscle groups. It is a great aerobic workout, in the same vein as cross-country skiing, and is a low-impact sport on the joints.
    3. Rowing Styles. Athletes with two oars – one in each hand – are scullers. There are three sculling events: the single – 1x (one person), the double – 2x (two) and the quad – 4x (four). Athletes with only one oar are sweep rowers. Sweep boats may or may not carry a coxswain (pronounced cox-n) to steer and be the on-the-water coach. In boats without coxswains, one of the rowers steers by moving the rudder with his or her foot. Sweep rowers come in pairs with a coxswain (2+) and pairs without (2-), fours with a coxswain (4+) and fours without (4-) and the eight (8+), which always carries a coxswain. The eight is the fastest boat on the water. A world-level men's eight is capable of moving almost 14 miles per hour. The pairs and fours with coxswain are sometimes the hardest to recognize because of where the coxswain is sitting. Although the coxswain is almost always facing the rowers in an eight, in pairs and fours the coxswain may be facing the rowers in the stern or looking down the course, lying down in the bow, where he or she is difficult to see.
    4. The boat. Although spectators will see hundreds of different races at a rowing event, there are only six basic boat configurations. Sweep rowers come in pairs (2s), fours (4s) and eights (8s). Scullers row in singles (1x), doubles (2x) and quads (4x). Sweep rowers may or may not carry a coxswain (cox-n), the person who steers the boat and serves as the on-the-water coach. All eights have coxswains, but pairs and fours may or may not. In all sculling boats and sweep boats without coxswains, a rower steers the boat by using a rudder moved with the foot. Although wooden boats were the norm for many years, most of today's rowing boats - called shells- are strong, lightweight carbon fiber. The smallest boat on the water is the single scull, only 27'-30' long, a foot wide and about 30 pounds. The largest is the eight at 60'. Today's oars-not paddles- are also incredibly lightweight. Sweep oars are somewhat longer than sculling oars and have longer handles that are made of wood, instead of the rubber grips on sculling oars. And yes, these high tech improvements have considerably increased the cost of these boats.
    5. The categories. Rowers are categorized by sex, age and weight. Events are offered for men and women, as well as for mixed crews containing an equal number of men and women. There are junior events for rowers 18 or under or who spent the previous year in high school, and there are masters events for rowers 21 and older. There are two weight categories: lightweight and open weight.
    6. The equipment. Today’s rowing boats are called shells, and they’re made of lightweight carbon fiber. The smallest boat on the water is the single scull, which is only 27-30 feet long, a foot wide and approximately 30 pounds. Eights are the largest boats at 60 feet and a little over 200 pounds. Rowers use oars to propel their shells. Sweep oars are longer than sculling oars, typically with carbon fiber handles and rubber grips (although some sweepers still prefer wooden handles). Sculling oars are almost never wood.
    7. Rower identification Athletes are identified by their seat in the boat. The athlete in bow is seat No. 1. That's the person who crosses the finish line first (which makes it easy to remember – first across the line is No. 1 seat). The person in front of the bow is No. 2, then No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8, a.k.a. the stroke. The stroke of the boat must be a strong rower with excellent technique, since the stroke sets the rhythm and number of strokes per minute the rest of the crew must follow.
    8. Race watching. The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job. When watching a race, look for a continuous, fluid motion from the rowers; synchronization in the boat; clean catches, i.e. oars entering the water with little splash; and the boat with the most consistent speed.
    9. Race Details. National, collegiate, worlds, and Olympic sprint competitions are 2,000 meters, or approximately 1.25 miles. The race course is divided into 6-8 lanes and each 500-meter section is marked with buoys. Masters races are 1,000 meters. Often, juniors races (high school teams) are 1,500 meters. The race begins with all boats aligned at the start in the lanes they've been assigned. Individuals in each lane hold the stern of each boat steady while an official, known as the aligner, ensures that each boat is even with the others and squarely facing the course. Each crew is allowed one false start; two means disqualification. If within the first 100 meters there is legitimate equipment breakage (e.g., an oar snaps in two), the race will be stopped and restarted with repaired equipment. The stroke rate (the number of rowing strokes per minute that a crew is taking ) is high at the start – maybe 45 to even 50 for an eight; 38 to 42 for a single scull. Then, the crew will "settle" into the body of the race and drop the rating back – 38 to 40 for an eight; 32-36 for a single. The coach and the way the race is going determine when the crew will sprint but finishing stroke rates of 46+ in the last 200 meters aren't unheard of. However, higher stroke rates are not always indicative of speed. A strong, technically talented crew may be able to cover more water faster than a less-capable crew rowing a high stroke rate. Unlike canoe/kayak competitions, rowers are allowed to leave their lanes without penalty, so long as they do not interfere with anyone else's opportunity to win. An official follows the crews to ensure safety and fairness. Rowing competitions are typically conducted on six lanes on the water. They follow a double-elimination format in a system designed to identify the fastest six crews for the final race in each category. Heats are first, followed by repechage (French for second-chance) races. There are no style points for rowing - the boat whose bow crosses the finish line first is the winner.
    10. SPM not MPH. Rowers speak in terms of strokes per minute (SPM); literally the number of strokes the boat completes in a minute's time. The stroke rate at the start might be high -38 to 40- and then settling down to a slower cadence. Boats often sprint to the finish, taking the rate up once again. The coxswain may call for a Power 10 - a demand for the crew's best, strongest 10 strokes. Although the number of strokes a boat is capable of rowing per minute is indicative of speed and talent, the boat getting the most distance out of every stroke may win the race.
    11. Teamwork is number one. Rowing isn't a great choice for athletes looking for MVP status. It is, however, teamwork's best teacher. The athlete trying to stand out in the eight will only make the boat slower. It is the crew made up of individuals willing to sacrifice their goals for the goals of the team; the athletes determined to match their desire, their talent and their oar blade with the rower in front of them, that will be on the medals stand together.

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    2. Where can I find more information about Hylton Crew ?

    1. Contact the booster president or any coach.

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    3. Why doesn't Prince William County Schools row as a team in the fall?

    1. The Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA) only permits school sports teams to have one official season (the spring). In the fall, our rowers take part in the off season conditioning and training events which we do as a group with other rowers from Prince William County high schools.

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    4. Who are some student rowers I can talk to about crew?

    1. See any of the members listed on the roster. Our men's team captains and women's team captains are listed on the roster as well. See them for candid info on how the team works. If you're coxswain material, talk to our experienced cox'ns.

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    5. What is the right body size for crew?

    1. All sizes work. Tall, muscular bodies can take longer, stronger strokes and are valued as bringing great power to a boat. Lighter weight guys and girls who have a self confidant attitude make great coxswains (natural leaders). People in the middle fit the majority of boats and bring balance to a team.

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    6. Why should I join crew?

    1. Because you'll get into great physical shape, you'll expand your circle of friends, you'll get to go away for a few overnight regattas and see other schools row on the east coast, you'll build a skill that might help out when you apply for college (yes, you can get a rowing scholarship), you'll build a level of toughness that will strengthen your character, and last but not least, YOU'LL HAVE FUN.

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    7. When is CREW season?

    1. As an overview, Hylton Crew formally participates in three rowing seasons; fall, winter and spring.

    2. During the fall season, the Hylton crew is mixed with students from other schools as to comply with VASRA. Sign up for the Fall season is during the second week (???) of school. Fall season typically starts the third week of school (???) and runs until the beginning of November (???).

    3. The Winter season is purely a indoor conditioning session typically conducted in the Hylton workout room. The winter season starts the second week of Nov (???) and goes until the last week of February(???) with signup occurring the first week of November (???).

    4. The spring season is the culmination of all of the fall / winter seasons and is where Hylton competes in regattas in the school's name. The spring season sign up is during the first week of February(???) with the season starting during the first week of March(???) and running all the way through the last week in May.

    5. During the summer, crew members are encouraged to maintain their conditioning and to participate in rowing camps that will be email through out the spring season. For exact dates of any season, please reference the Crew Calendar or communicate with one of the staff members.

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    8. When is Hylton Crew sign up ?

    1. Seasonal registration information and forms can be found here.   For additional information please contact one of the staff members.

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