There are multiple types of rowing races, each with a name that defines the type of race that will take place. For example, races include sculls, meaning a sculling boat is being used, as well as "eights" races in which eight rowers participate each using their own oar while being steered by a coxswain. Coxed and coxless races indicate whether there is a coxswain or not. The number of oars being used by a rower can differ from race to race, for example, "eights" differs from a "single scull" in which one rower uses two oars to move along the water.
Eights (8+) - There are a total of nine athletes. Eight of the athletes are rowing each with a single sweep oar (sweep rowers). The ninth athlete is the coxswain and steers. This is typically the fastest boat on the water.
In a coxed race, a coxswain is present whereas in a coxless race a coxswain is not used. A coxswain is a member of a rowing team that sits in the front of the boat facing his or her teammates. Coxswains speak with the referees before events and communicate with them during matches for such things as letting the referee know that their boat is ready to race, or the acknowledgment of a penalty by raising their hand. In both coxed and coxless races special oars called "sweep oars" are used, they are somewhat bigger and longer than oars used in sculling.
Sculling races see the rowers steer the boat using their oars while in other coxless races the boat can be steered by a cable attached to the toes called a "rudder cable." Otherwise, a coxswain is used to guide the boat through the water and to coach the other rowers throughout the race.