British Rowing

British Rowing
Sport Rowing
Founded 1882 (1882)
Affiliation International Rowing Federation
Headquarters Hammersmith, London
President Di Ellis [1]
Chairman Annamarie Phelps
Chief Exec Andy Parkinson
Official website
United Kingdom

British Rowing, formerly the Amateur Rowing Association (ARA), is the governing body for the sport of rowing (both indoor and on-water rowing). It is responsible for the training and selection of individual rowers and crews representing Great Britain and for participation in and the development of rowing and indoor rowing in England. Scottish Rowing (formerly SARA) and Welsh Rowing (formerly WARA) oversee governance in their respective countries, organise their own teams for the Home International Regatta and input to the GB team organisation.

British Rowing is a member of the British Olympic Association and the International Rowing Federation, also known as FISA.


ARA plaque

The ARA (as the predecessor of British Rowing) had it roots in the desire to form crews drawn from the leading English clubs 'for the purpose of defeating the foreign or colonial invader' although in fact this aim was not fulfilled until much later.

A series of meetings were held in Putney from 1877 culminating in the formation of the Metropolitan Rowing Association in 1879[2] by Cambridge University Boat Club, Dublin University Boat Club, Kingston Rowing Club, Leander Club, London Rowing Club, Oxford University Boat Club, Royal Chester Rowing Club, Thames Rowing Club and Twickenham Rowing Club. Molesey Boat Club joined soon afterward.

In 1882 the Metropolitan Rowing Association changed its name to the Amateur Rowing Association, having gained additional member clubs from outside London, and began its evolution into the governing body of rowing.

In 1886 the ARA issued General Rules for Regattas. The ARA adopted Henley Royal Regatta's restrictive definition of "amateur" which not only excluded those who made their living as profession oarsmen but also anyone "who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer." Moreover, the new rules stated that only clubs affiliated to the ARA could compete in regattas held under ARA rules, and that ARA affiliated clubs could not compete under any other rules, nor against crews not affiliated to the ARA. This ruling was extremely socially divisive, effectively excluding any club with a socially mixed membership. It resulted in the formation of a breakaway organisation in 1890, the National Amateur Rowing Association, whose clubs could draw their membership from all social classes and occupations.

The schism in English rowing was to remain for over half a century as a regular cause of controversy and bad feeling. Change only came after the Australian national eight, preparing for the Berlin Olympics in 1936, was excluded from the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley because the crew, who were all policemen,[3] were deemed to be ‘manual workers’. The embarrassment caused persuaded the ARA and the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta of the need for change, and on 9 June 1937, the offending references to manual labourers, mechanics, artisans and menial duties were deleted from the ARA rules, with Henley following suit the following day.

The ARA and NARA finally amalgamated in 1956.

David Lunn-Rockliffe, Executive Secretary of the ARA from 1976–1987 and later co-founder of the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames, oversaw the transition to a more professional organization.[4][5] In 1998, the ARA followed FISA in removing all references to amateurism from its rules. Professional rowers are now permitted. The name Amateur Rowing Association remained because of its heritage and because no agreement could be reached on alternatives. In 2009, a decision was taken to rename the organisation as 'British Rowing'.[6]

Five English rowing clubs retained the right to appoint representatives directly to the Council of British Rowing. They were: London Rowing Club, Leander Club, Thames Rowing Club, Oxford University Boat Club and Cambridge University Boat Club. This right was, however, removed from the five clubs in September 2012.[7]

Sir Steve Redgrave, multiple Olympic Gold medallist in rowing, was the Honorary President of British Rowing from 2001 until 2013. Di Ellis, former chairman of British Rowing, succeeds him as Honorary President. [1]

Points system

British Rowing operates a points system to allow rowers to compete with those of a similar standard. Competitors gain points in both rowing and sculling by winning a qualifying race (a regatta race with more than 2 entries). When first joining British Rowing, all members begin at zero points. Points are increased by members winning qualifying regattas.

The current status levels are (high to low) Elite (ELI), Senior (SEN), Intermediate 1 (IM1), Intermediate 2 (IM2), Intermediate 3 (IM3), Novice (NV). Each crew members' points are added up and this determines the status of the crew. The crew is only allowed to race at this level or higher (e.g. an IM1 crew can only race at IM1, SEN or ELI).

The table below indicates the maximum number of points that may be held by a crew at each status level.

8 +/x 4 +/-/x 2 -/x 1 x
Elite no limit no limit no limit no limit
SEN 72 36 18 9
IM1 48 24 12 6
IM2 32 16 8 4
IM3 16 8 4 2
Novice 0 0 0 0

Anyone who has competed for the Senior, Lightweight or U23 international squads will be given 12 points (the maximum possible). Those representing GB at the Junior World Rowing Championships have their points topped up to 6.


There are a number of junior categories (J12, J13, J14, J15, J16, J17 and J18). The number represents the age competitors must be younger than, before the first day of September preceding the event. Sweep oar rowing is only allowed at J15 and older for both boys and for girls, due to possible issues of asymmetric muscle development (coxswains excepted).

Coaching awards

British Rowing has an awards scheme for coaching that up until 2005 consisted of the Instructor's Award, Bronze Award, Silver Award and finally the Gold Award. These were overhauled in 2006 as qualifications were brought in line with the Sportscoach UK system that many other sports in the UK have adopted. British Rowing now offers the Level 2 (Club Coach), Level 3 (Senior Club Coach) and Level 4 (Advanced Coach) coaching awards and other related workshops and training courses.

See also


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