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For rowing as a method of transport or for recreation, see Rowing. For other uses, see Rowing (disambiguation).

Rowing, often referred to as crew in the United States, is a sport with origins back to Ancient Egyptian times. It is based on propelling a boat (racing shell) on water using oars. By pushing against the water with an oar, a force is generated to move the boat. The sport can be either recreational - focusing on learning the technique of rowing, or competitive - where athletes race against each other in boats. There are a number of different boat classes in which athletes compete, ranging from an individual shell (called a single scull) to an eight person shell with coxswain (called a coxed eight).

Modern rowing as a competitive sport can be traced to the early 18th century when races were held between professional watermen on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom. Often prizes were offered by the London Guilds and Livery Companies. Amateur competition began towards the end of the 18th century with the arrival of "boat clubs" at the British public schools of Eton College and Westminster School. Similarly, clubs were formed at the University of Oxford, with a race held between Brasenose College and Jesus College in 1815. At the University of Cambridge the first recorded races were in 1827. Public rowing clubs were beginning at the same time; in England Leander Club was founded in 1818, in Germany Der Hamburger und Germania Ruder Club was founded in 1836 and in the United States Narragansett Boat Club was founded in 1838 and Detroit Boat Club was founded in 1839. In 1843, the first American college rowing club was formed at Yale University.

The International Rowing Federation (French: Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron, abbreviated FISA) is responsible for international governance of rowing and was founded in 1892 to provide regulation at a time when the sport was gaining popularity. Across six continents there are now 118 countries with rowing federations that participate in the sport.

Rowing is one of the oldest Olympic sports and has been competed since 1900. Women's rowing was added to the Olympic programme in 1976. Today, only fourteen boat classes are raced at the Olympics, across men and women. Each year the World Rowing Championships is held by FISA with 22 boat classes raced. In Olympic years only the non-Olympic boat classes are raced at the World Championships. The European Rowing Championships are held annually, along with three World Rowing Cups in which each event earns a number of points for a country towards the World Cup title. Since 2008, rowing has also been competed at the Paralympic Games.

Major domestic competitions take place in dominant rowing nations and include The Boat Race and Henley Royal Regatta in the United Kingdom, the Australian Rowing Championships in Australia, the Harvard-Yale Regatta and Head of the Charles Regatta in the United States and Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in Canada. Many other competitions often exist for racing between clubs, schools and universities in each nation.


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