Whilst the action of rowing and equipment used remains fairly consistent throughout the world, there are many different types of competition. These include endurance races, time trials, stake racing, bumps racing, and the side-by-side format used in the Olympic games. The many different formats are a result of the long history of the sport, its development in different regions of the world, and specific local requirements and restrictions.
Each machine has been hand finished with Danish Oil and Urethane for protection. Wood has been chosen due to its marvelous engineering properties, primary amongst these is its ability to absorb sound and vibration enhancing the WaterRower's quietness and smoothness of use. Ash, like all woods used in WaterRower construction, is a premium hardwood with incredible longevity and dimensional stability. For reasons of ecology, all our woods are harvested from replenishable forests.

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.