Highlight 6# of the decade: grassroots rowing goes from strength to strength

With 76 new clubs, near-record entries across all competition formats from juniors to masters and BUCS to BRIC, rowing is growing


The sixth highlight of the decade spotlights the membership and club growth over the last few years. Nick Hubble, Chair of the Sport Committee, said: “Membership has grown over this decade and it’s largely down to the 2012 Olympic legacy, but people have also generally been more active, especially later in life. We’ve seen a great surge in masters and recreational rowing as well as in junior and student rowing.”

A total of 76 clubs have joined British Rowing since 2010, with membership growing from about 25,000 in January 2010 to nearly 32,000 in December 2019.

Competitions such as the Scullery – “a brilliant event,” said Hubble, and the British Rowing Junior Championships have really grown over the years.

Last July the British Rowing Junior Championships had record numbers with more than 1,600 young rowers from across the country taking part in an action-packed weekend. The standard of competition was high with quality racing in all the different age groups.

Membership has grown from about 25,000 in January 2010 to nearly 32,000 in December 2019

Masters racing is also thriving with entries increasing across all age groups. The 2019 British Rowing Masters Championships was hosted by Strathclyde Park with 444 crews from 81 clubs making the journey to Glasgow to test their skills in a blockbuster weekend of racing. Star Club, victor ludorum winners, also went on to compete at the World Rowing Masters Championships.

Hubble added: “The massive increase in competition entries shows that more people than ever are keen to race. And the coaching programme and club coaches around the country have really helped athletes improve their skills, and this shines through in the quality of racing.

“But there’s even more people who want to race, who don’t manage to enter because competitions have reached their capacity. We are crying out for more events. I’ve asked the National Competition Committee to look into the different racing formats as I think we need to encourage competitions to focus on what their core market actually is, or could be, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The massive increase in competition entries shows that more people than ever are keen to race

“Other areas of growth in the last decade include recreational rowing – we’ve seen how popular this is in Europe – along with the growth of coastal/offshore and indoor rowing. These have also brought huge numbers to some clubs,” said Hubble.

“For instance, my club – Peterborough – has a group from the University of the Third Age. They started with a learn-to-row course a few years ago after 2012 and meet twice a week, and the group is really thriving. Some of them are now involved in coaching and helping out other sections of the club, on top of their rowing, and spend the entire week at the rowing club!”

So, all in all, as another Olympic year beckons, club rowing – the oxygen of the sport – is in a healthy place for the future.

See more of our highlights of the decade: numbers 6 to 10

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