What is a Single Scull?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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A single scull is a type of racing shell which is designed to seat one person, who powers and steers the boat alone with a single set of oars. Single sculls are sometimes used for exercise by people who enjoy rowing, and for training on rowing teams. Rowing alone can show rowers where their weaknesses are, and give evaluators an opportunity to see how powerful, coordinated, and efficient a rower is on his or her own.

Racing boats designed for rowing are very different from other kinds of watercraft. They are extremely lightweight, with a design in cross-section which is intended to limit drag as the boat moves through the water. Shells, as they are known, can seat a variety of numbers of rowers along with a coxswain or cox who coordinates the rowers. In the case of a single scull, there is room for a single rower, and the boat usually lacks accommodation for a cox.

A number of companies manufacture single sculls which can be used in competition or training. Most rowing clubs maintain single sculls which members can take out on their own for practice, training, or exercise. For people who compete in single scull events, an investment in a single scull is often involved, so that the competitor has a boat for competitions and has access to a boat at all times for workouts.


Competitive rowers who usually work in teams can hone their skills and try new techniques in a single scull. Workouts in a single scull also keep people fit, trim, and focused for team workouts, and allow a rowing club to work around conflicting schedules by allowing people to exercise at different times independently. When a rowing club or crew wants to add people to a boat, it can use single sculls in tryouts to see people try their paces alone before trying them with the crew as a whole.

For people who are not interested in competition, rowing is still an excellent form of exercise. Upper body strength can become tremendously developed for someone who rows regularly, and rowing is also a form of cardiovascular exercise which gets the heart pumping. For people who enjoy running but are worried about impact injuries on the legs, rowing can be an alternative way to keep fit, and it also provides a pleasant view during exercise sessions if people row on a lake or river in a single scull.


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