Boats, or shells, are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Boats that hold eight rowers plus a coxswain (demarcated 8+ and referred to as “eights”) are 55-60' long, weigh around 200 pounds.
Boats that hold four rowers plus a coxswain (demarcated 4+ and referred to as “fours”) are about 40 feet long, weigh around 120 pounds.
The Oars. Also called a blade or sometimes hatchet. Never called a paddle. These are 12' long hollow carbon with composite blade (the working part). Handles are polyurethane. They can be used as a flotation device if necessary. Oars are re-painted about every other year.
Cox Boxes. Each boat has speakers wired into it so that the coxswain may plug in a device called a Cox Box. This device allows the coxswain to be heard clearly down the length of the boat through a microphone, and provides information to the coxswain about what the crew is doing.
Riggers. Riggers are the aluminum devices that attach to the shell to hold the oar. They have an oarlock into which the oar is placed. The pin of the oarlock acts as a pivot point upon which the rower generates sufficient leverage to propel the boat. Riggers can be damaged by catching a crab, or by hitting them against immovable objects such as the sides of boathouse doors, boat racks, oar racks, boat trailers, signs, trees, cars, trucks, or other boats or riggers.
The Skeg and Rudder. The skeg, or fin, is the tiny blade-like object beneath and to the stern of the boat. The skeg sits directly in front of the even tinier rudder, and the combined efforts of the two give the boat steerage. Without either one the boat is helpless and all but uncontrollable. The skeg is designed to turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble to prevent transferring energy into further damage to the hull. These may break off after contacting an object submerged in the river or after contacting the dock.