The coxswain (or simply the cox) is the member who sits in the boat facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers - by communicating to the crew through a device called a cox box and speakers. They usually sit in the stern of the boat, except in bowloaders where the coxswain lies in the bow. Bowloader are usually seen as the coxed four and coxed pair type of boat.
A feature of the end of twentieth century rowing was the development of non-olympic multicrew racing boats, typically fixed seat-gigs, pilot boats and in Finland church- or longboats. The most usual craft in races held around the coasts of Britain during summer months is the Cornish pilot gig, most typically in the south-west, with crews of 6 from local towns and races of varying distances. The Cornish pilot gig was designed and built to ferry harbour and river pilots to and from ships in fierce coastal waters. The boat needed to be stable and fast with the large crew hence making it ideal for its modern racing usage. In Finland 14-oared churchboats race throughout the summer months, usually on lakes, and often with mixed crews. The largest gathering sees over 7000 rowers mainly rowing the 60 kilometres (37 mi) course at Sulkava near the eastern border over a long weekend in mid July. The weekend features the World Masters churchboat event which also includes a 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) dash.
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While rowing, the athlete sits in the boat facing toward the stern, and uses the oars which are held in place by the oarlocks to propel the boat forward (towards the bow). This may be done on a canal, river, lake, sea, or other large bodies of water. The sport requires strong core balance, physical strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance.
In sweep or sweep-oar rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This is generally done in pairs, fours, and eights. In some regions of the world, each rower in a sweep boat is referred to either as port or starboard, depending on which side of the boat the rower's oar extends to. In other regions, the port side is referred to as stroke side, and the starboard side as bow side; this applies even if the stroke oarsman is rowing on bow side and/or the bow oarsman on stroke side.