National Watersports Month – So Many Ways to Row!

British Rowing has teamed up with the British Marine Federation, the Royal Yachting Association, British Canoe Union and British Water Ski & Wakeboard to promote all watersports to wider audience throughout May.

National Watersports Month has been taking place this month, with a programme of water-based activities to bring rowing, sailing, canoeing, water skiing and wakeboarding to a wider audience. British Rowing has been developing some exciting new opportunities to try rowing at watersports centres around the country.

“Most rowing has traditionally been learned through one of our 550 clubs” explains Simon Dickie, British Rowing’s Head of Participation. “In providing new opportunities for people to go along to their local watersports centre we’re hoping to appeal to a group that may never thought of rowing before.”

It is still early days for rowing at watersports centres, but it is already proving popular. Liz Whale spent nearly 40 years thinking about learning to row before finally taking the plunge at Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC).

“We went out on the water on beautiful sunny evenings with friendly, experienced Instructors, and everything was about enjoying rowing and learning confidence,” she said. “We have a great group of us of varying ability and ages – I’m really pleased with the way SWAC ran the sessions and would recommend them to anyone. It’s a really economic way to try something new and I like that it’s social rowing at the moment where I can try to get better in a boat on my own without the pressure of competition”.  

Olympic medallist and member of the GB Rowing Team’s senior squad, James Foad, also learned to row in Southampton at Itchen Imperial Rowing Club. James’s home club offers both coastal and inland rowing, but he was delighted to support National Watersports Month and the programme to support new ways to learn to row. 

“I think a ‘try rowing’ month is a great idea, and giving people a new route into rowing through watersports centres may appeal to a whole new group,” he said. “Southampton is a great place to learn with a choice of inland or coastal too, and I hope lots of people will follow Liz’s example – but maybe not take 40 years to think about it!”

There are opportunities for everyone to get involved in a rowing during May and all through the summer. Find out more about the taster sessions and learn to row courses being offered by participating clubs, centres and associations at

You can also try skiffing, a form of traditional fixed-seat rowing with the Thames Valley Skiff Club: