During a rowing event, the objective for a crew is to be the first team to cross the finish line with the fastest time, rather than to score a certain amount of points to win.
However, there is a points system used to rank crews leading up to the final competition. Depending on where a country's boat places in preliminary races, they earn the following points: 8 points for first place, 6 points for second place, 5 points for third place, 4 points for fourth place, 3 points for fifth place, 2 points for 6th place, and 1 point point for 7th place. Whichever country has the most points is deemed the leader of the competition. However, that does not mean they will necessarily win the overall competition.
Since the sport of rowing is about crossing the finish line first rather than scoring a certain amount of points, crew teams race in heats to earn a spot in the final race. There are multiple heats, or preliminary races, and the winners of those heats move on to the semi-finals. The losers of the first heat compete one more time for a spot in the semi-finals. Just like with the preliminary heats, the top finishers in the semi-finals will advance to the final race.
Medals are determined based upon the order in which crews cross the finish line. The first crew to cross, which is the crew with the fastest time, wins gold. The second crew to finish wins a silver medal, and the third crew to finish wins a bronze medal. The rest of the places (fourth, fifth, etc.) do not receive medals.