As we begin to focus our eyes on upcoming regattas around our clubs, it is easy to get carried away with our own preparations and neglect a group of people who ensure our regattas run smoothly.

The volunteers who assist with launch and recovery docking, referee boat driving and even the finish line flag person are always appreciated, though attention to their involvement is rarely recognized.

We thought it was about time the humble regatta volunteer had their time in the sun.

regatta-volunteerBelow we share some tips that will help volunteers understand exactly what their role involves and the best way to do it!

Make a note to share these videos among your club members and you will have a huge pool of competent volunteers to help make sure your regattas run like the World Championships!

A How-To Guide for Assisting at Rowing Regattas

An Introduction to Coaching Launch Driving


This video offers tips for coaches and regatta volunteers on how to operate small Jon Boats with tiller steer motors (commonly referred to as a “coaching launch” or “safety boat”).

The Launch Dock Volunteer / Referee


This video describes the job of a referee or regatta volunteer at the launching dock for rowing shells. The idea is prior to going on the water this person will be responsible for checking safety related items on the shell, as well as marking down the time that the crew launched so that the starter can expect them to be either on time or tardy to the start line.

The Finish Line Flagger

How to be a rowing regatta volunteer as a Finish Line Flagger (flag person):
Your job just simply consists of lowering and raising the flag each time you hear the Referee at the finish call “one”,”two”,”three” etc. The flag should be raised when the boats have about 250m or less to go in the race (the referee at the finish should announce “Flag up”), and then briskly moved down and up each time you hear the referee call the finish place (or hear the) air horn as the shells cross the line. (The proper way is to do it off the voice of the referee, although some people may tell you to do it off the sound of the horn).

The Recovery Dock Volunteer


As a recovery dock volunteer your job will be to help direct boat traffic as the rowing boats approach the dock and help them “land” on the dock without hurting themselves or the shell. You can expect the coxswain to guide their boat relatively close to the dock, and then for you to help either pull them in the rest of the way (or push them away if they are too close and going to hit the boat on the dock) using an oar from one of the rowers. You will also need to remind the rower who’s oar you are pulling/pushing on to hold onto it tight and not let you move it around freely, this gives you better “grip” on the shell to help pull it in.

A special thank you to RowIntel for producing these excellent videos!