Learn to scull


What is sculling?

In sculling, each rower uses two oars. Class participants learn to row in safe, sturdy Maas Aeros boats (we call rowing boats “shells”). These are singles – one rower per boat.

In this five–session class, novices learn how to handle the shells (lifting them, carrying them, getting them in and out of the water), safety, and basic rowing technique. Included in the registration fee are three additional rows either in a coached practice or with an experienced rower.

Once you have successfully completed the sculling class, including three additional rows, you are eligible to become an OAR member and to continue rowing. Membership in OAR includes access to coached practices from late March through mid-November, and access to a variety of club boats anytime for rowing by yourself or with others – during daylight hours!

Currently, due to COVID restrictions, sculling classes are limited to four rowers to ensure positive, productive, and empowering experiences for all. Spots are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis once we receive your registration forms and payment. Registration is required. Classes fill quickly.

Prior to COVID, both a 10-minute treading water test and a flip test (where you flip out of the boat and learn to get back in) were completed at The Valley pool. However, that option is not currently available. Participants must provide evidence that they are able to tread water for 10 minutes. Download the swim test form (on the OAR website) and bring it with you to the first session on Friday night. If you are unable to get access to a pool, you may provide a signed attestation that you can swim, float and tread water for 10 minutes.
The flip test has been incorporated into the sculling class. You will have the chance to lean how to get back into a boat in case that ever happens while rowing. The Coach will guide each participant through the process of flipping the boat and getting back in.

Classes are held on Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30, followed by two Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 to 11:30. All sessions are held at the OAR Boathouse at Swantown Marina.

2021 Learn to Scull class schedule:

Class 1: May 7-9, 15 & 16 FULL
Class 2: June 11-13, 19 & 20 FULL
Class 3: July 9-11, 17 & 18 FULL
Class 4: August 6-8, 14 & 15 FULL
Class 5: FULL
Class 6: FULL

All 2021 Learn to Scull classes are full. If you’d like to receive information on the 2022 classes, email Joan Cullen at grannyjoan4@aol.com. You will be notified about the 2022 classes before they are posted on the website.


Cost is $200 for non-OAR members, $50 for OAR members. Included in the class fee are three additional rows (described above). After completion of the class and the three additional rows, $50 of the class fee can be applied towards an OAR membership.

Before registering, contact Joan Cullen at 360-491-7687, text at 360-349-1772, or grannyjoan4@aol.com to check on the status of classes or if you have any questions about OAR or the Learn to Scull class.
And then complete the forms below:
Sculling Class Application 2021 (Indicate a first and second choice for session number.)
OAR Waiver
US Rowing Waiver (separate from the OAR waiver). For insurance purposes, all persons rowing with OAR (members and non-members) must have a current US Rowing Basic Membership ($9.75 fee) even if you do not plan on participating in races. The code for our club is ‘LMACX’. You will only need this code if you have not been a US Rowing member before.

Once you’ve registered with US Rowing, please watch this Safety Video prior to attending the Learn 2 Scull class.

Also watch the COVID-19 video, read (and perhaps download) the written procedures for Masters, and sign the on-line COVID-19 Waiver. All can be found by clicking on “COVID-19” on OAR’s homepage.

Send completed forms and a $200 check ($50 for members) payable to “Olympia Area Rowing” to:
Joan Cullen
OAR Sculling Class Registrar
5623 Devonshire St SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Once your application and payment are received, you will be contacted to confirm your spot in the class or to check with you about an alternative session, if your first choice is filled.

Course Outline

Day 1: Friday, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
At the OAR Boathouse:
Introduction to Olympia Area Rowing
Introduction to rowing basics, rowing terms, and equipment
Coaches will introduce and model rowing technique drills and workouts for beginners
Rowing safety
Technique practice on rowing machines (“ergometers”)
Day 2: Saturday 9:30 am to 11:30 am
Rowing technique practice on land
Rowing technique practice on the water
Focus on safety precautions
Coach will introduce and model rowing technique drills and workouts for beginners
Day 3: Sunday 9:30 am to 11:30 am
Get on the water and row!
Practice everything you’ve learned in Days 1 and 2
Day 4: 2nd Saturday 9:30-11:30
Get on the water and row!
Practice everything you’ve learned in Days 1, 2, and 3
Demonstrate basic sculling skills
Day 5: 2nd Sunday 9:30-11:30
Flip test will be held on either day 4 or 5 – which ever day is more favorable