Rowing's Competition Framework

15th November

UPDATE 22nd NOVEMBER
The feedback form is now closed, thanks for taking part in our review.


UPDATE 20th NOVEMBER
Please ensure all feedback is completed by 5pm on Thursday 21st November.


Below is a letter to the membership asking you to consider the proposals which are the first steps towards changing the current competition framework, with the ambition of moving to a less centrally controlled system that will encourage innovation and creativity within our sport. Your views are important and you are encouraged to give feedback.


Dear Member,

The National Competition Committee is undertaking a review of the sport’s competition framework.  There is a great deal of debate in the regions which has generally been very useful and constructive.   We would like to thank you if you have already contributed through our surveys and to outline in more detail the reasons behind the review and the process.  We hope this will give you a fuller understanding of what we are seeking to achieve.

Our aim is to provide a simple and flexible system which provides a positive competitive experience that allows rowers and crews to compete against peers, that incentivises crews to race at their highest level and rewards those who progress upwards.

First of all, why undertake a review?

The results from the 2013 membership survey showed that 51% of rowers (55% of gold members) want to enter more competitions.

After wanting cheaper entry fees, the rowers are calling to simplify or abolish the points system and for more fun and casual regattas.

In the 2013 survey there was a fantastic response with close to a thousand comments from rowers on how to improve the current competition structure and on encouraging more people to compete. The two overriding issues that rowers were calling for change through the comments is to the points system and an improvement in their racing experience.

Also feedback from strategic review interviews and delegates at the 2020 Vision Conference in September provided further evidence of the need to address some priority areas around competition, particularly for ‘senior club rowers’.

Feedback infograph

The infographic above summarises some of the quantitative data which has emerged from both the membership database and surveys that British Rowing has run in 2012 and 2013.

In addition, regional representatives at Council have told us that rowers want a good quality, enjoyable racing experience. The current system provides no clear pathway and whilst Masters and Junior events are growing, some regattas are struggling to gain sufficient entries in senior racing categories due to the points system which is seen as a deterrent by many competitors. 

The evidence over several years shows that there are real concerns regarding the current competition structure.  It is for these reasons that a review of the current competition set up was instigated by the National Competition Committee (NCC).

The process, so far

We started with an open questionnaire to the regions via the NCC and Committee Chairmen, followed by a Competition Review Working Group, drawn from volunteers and BR staff from across the sport.  The feedback from this stage fed into the NCC and the creation of a draft aim and blue print for a National Competition Framework.

The NCC subsequently undertook a review of the objectives, issues and priorities in the various communities of rowing in consultation with the British Rowing Committees responsible for specific aspects of our sport, for example, juniors, masters and universities. The British Rowing participant survey included NCC competition review questions and provided some conclusive insights into the challenges and mandates for change:-

  • All groups wanted more opportunity to compete, a greater variety of events, a clearer pathway and competitive, enjoyable racing
  • A framework that provides for all levels of competition – from promoting participation, recreational and local events through to those that encourage performance rowers and all offering rowers the opportunity to achieve their potential.
  • Regulation, rules and points are seen as barriers, stifling innovation and reducing motivation to compete.

The key objective of the proposals is; to address the concerns identified by our members to improve the opportunity, variety and quality of competition

At present we are seeking an agreement in principle of the proposals,

  • Throughout 2014 to work towards a categories based approach for the 2014/15 season to include three tiers of events, Novice/Beginner, Intermediate and Championship (names yet to be confirmed).
  • With effect from 1 July 2014 to cease the addition of points for event wins.

By moving to a categories based approach we would hope to see a more balanced competition which allows creativity and removes the artificial barrier a points system creates

  • Simplification of the rules for less formal and more local events.

From the discussions to date, many agree that change is needed, the question is how.  This is an opportunity for regions, events and clubs to influence what the finished proposal should look like based on the broad principle of a system that encourages and incentivises rowers and coaches to put together talented crews and enter higher level races, rather than the current one that is seen as penalising successful crews and rowers. This requires more than just a new system it is a change in culture. 

We need to take the first step towards change and involve the rowing community in developing a progressive and flexible competition framework that is sustainable, recognises achievement and gives both existing and new competitors the opportunity to row in high quality events.

The proposals will be presented to Council on 23 November.  Your Regional Chairman would like to know your views so please select your club from the 'drop-down' box below and we will pass on your comments.  This is your sport, get involved and help shape the future  

Fiona Dennis
Fiona Dennis
Chairman National Competition Committee
Kate Burt
Kate Burt
CEO British Rowing