CEO Membership Column – June 2020

This month Andy highlights some of the progress we’ve made during the lockdown period.

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June has been another month dominated by updates and changing guidance related to COVID-19. It’s been great to see some rowing activity back up and running, albeit with many limitations still in place. We’ve been incredibly impressed with the work that clubs and volunteers across the country have put into understanding the advice we have issued (now in version 4) and finding sensible ways to implement it in their club’s local environment. Please continue to be patient with your club’s volunteers and remember to thank them for all the work they are putting in.

Similarly to rowing clubs, this month, we have been digesting the Government’s advice and seeing how that applies to our own operations. Elite sport has various special dispensations from the coronavirus restrictions, however, they require a number of extra practices to be put in place. The Performance team have been working through these and I’m pleased that a small pilot group of rowers has been able to return to the National Training Centre this week and we hope to have more of the GB Rowing Team back on-site in September, after the summer break.

Indoor rowing has seen massive growth during the last few months, with new rowing machines from the two main manufacturers proving extremely difficult to get your hands on during the lockdown. The first British Rowing Virtual Championships offered a fantastic opportunity for rowers to get their competitive fix and we were delighted to see over 1,200 entries. The event was pulled together in double-quick time with a mix of British Rowing staff and volunteers ensuring our competitors had a great experience. Congratulations to everyone who took part and especially those who broke personal bests, British records and even World records.

Away from coronavirus, we have been developing a new content platform for members, British Rowing Plus, which launched last week alongside our new INDOOR subscription. The new platform lets members and subscribers access exclusive content from many of the rowing writers and experts you’ll know alongside new indoor rowing training plans. There are great articles discussing what could have been at Henley 2020, technical tips from Robin Williams, great contributions from Beccy Muzerie and Matt Rossiter and many more articles. If you haven’t already, please do log in and have a look. Do let us know what you think by giving us feedback to [email protected].

Diversity still remains a prominent topic around the world and, as we all know and we have said recently as a sport, rowing can and needs to do more. It’s really important that we all challenge ourselves and ask how we can help contribute to making the sport more accessible. We have to consider the things we do as a sport which we might not even have thought could impact on how comfortable someone might feel walking into our sport for the first time. This is definitely an area where we don’t have all the answers and we are keen to hear of people’s experiences both positive and negative in this area – if you’d like to share your experiences please use this form.

Finally, we were delighted to receive news from World Rowing that we had been successful in our bid for the World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals in 2022. The event will be staged in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, Wales and we will be hosting the event in association with Welsh Rowing. We’ve been working very closely with the Home Nations in recent months and this is a great sign of how well these relationships are working. With coastal rowing looking likely to form part of the Olympic programme from 2024 onwards, hosting this event is a really great opportunity for Great Britain to put its mark on a possible new Olympic discipline.

Stay safe.

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