Regattas are competitions for rowers, and in many respects they’ve been the same for years. But some say the ways that regattas run aren’t open to a recreational or casual rower. Well, the Domestic Rowing Revitalisation survey from Rowing New Zealand is seeding a change.

The Need For Change

The casual scene in rowing for New Zealand lacks regattas and events.  Less active rowers that are still in love with the sport don’t stand a chance competing against athletes in major regattas, and feel discouraged. It’s possible that because of this, they end up dropping their involvement in rowing in a club altogether.

This isn’t an encouraging look for the sport, so a survey was started by Rowing New Zealand. And sure enough, an enticing idea of a new regatta format to encourage novice and social rowers emerged…

A Regatta Format For The Novice Rower

A new regatta formula was designed to encourage the casual side of the NZ rowing community to get more involved with rowing. Each design choice comes with a purpose:

The format summary – A series of regattas should be held for novices during the off-season. Each of the regattas held would earn points and rowers competing would be split between novice, intermediate, and club grade levels.

Easier access – Open to over 18s and splitting racing categories into Doubles, Fours and Quads they compete over a maximum distance of either 500 m or 1000 m. These format decisions make it easier for the target audience (ex/new rowers) to compete rather than getting thrashed by highly competitive elite athletes.  It also allows clubs to run events in lakes and on river straights which are shorter than the standard 2k distance.

Off-season – To be held near the end of the main season break (October to November in New Zealand). This is so that it fills a gap and gives purpose. After the regattas it provides new rowers real motivation to continue and join in the next season of main regattas.

Points system – Each regatta earns rowers points based on where they place. This will show them their progress and foster the desire to compete.

Promoting extended rowing club registrations – With these regattas, clubs could offer special memberships so that more casual rowers would be encouraged to compete. The goal of this is to promote longer club memberships with more dedicated and enthusiastic athletes by keeping them on for this “season” of rowing. Rest assured, as they mingle with club members and devote time to rowing they’ll be sure to fall in love with it!

This format of forming a series of ‘novice friendly’ regattas is certainly on the right track and has the right goal of turning young athletes into dedicated rowers for years to come. Will this format catch on however? How successful will it really be?

Would you suggest this format to your local rowing community? We’re excited to see more initiatives getting the novice rowing crowd involved and more passionate about rowing.