CEO Membership Column – April 2022
Alastair Marks started as Chief Executive of British Rowing on 1 April, a role he has held on an interim basis since November 2021. He looks ahead to exciting times
As the 1st April marked my first official day in the role I am delighted to be writing to you all for the first time as the permanent Chief Executive of British Rowing.
It is an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to work with the Board, the executive colleagues and above all the rowing community on an ongoing basis as we look to build the strength of rowing and grow the sport in the years to come.
In my short time in the sport I have already seen some of the benefits it can bring, how it can bring communities of like-minded people together and help share their love of being out on the water with others like them or perhaps those who haven’t quite got the bug yet, but are keen to give it a go.
Above all, when I have gone out to meet with clubs and volunteers, the welcome I have received has been genuinely warm, open, inquisitive (sometimes challenging too), but it has ultimately made me feel like I belong. As we work together to invite more people into experiencing the sport, this gives me a huge amount of confidence that that they too will receive the same great experience that I have done – the type of experience that will keep them coming back time and time again and they’ll maybe be even tell their friends too (to use a Walt Disney-ism).
I really do believe we have all of the ingredients in place to be a united rowing community across Britain that serves existing and would-be rowers up and down the nation’s waterways, coastlines, in gyms or at home with the experiences they want in whatever way they want, and to whatever level they can achieve.
So what can you expect of me in the immediate future?
Firstly, I am still learning the intricacies of the sport, so I would like to continue to come out and visit those clubs that will have me each month to hear first-hand the challenges you face and how we can help. If you are keen to host me for a day then please do get in touch and we’ll try to find some time for that to happen in the year ahead.
With the new racing season starting in earnest there are some great regattas coming up thick and fast across the country, some of which I hope to get to with the JIRR and BUCS Regatta also coming up at the end of the month. This weekend I am looking forward to seeing many of our GB Rowing Team athletes in action for the first team trials of the year, having already seen some great performances across the Para Team and beach sprints trials in the last few weeks.
Secondly, we have already been working with the British Rowing Sport Committee to focus on key priorities in the year ahead, and beyond, as we deliver on our Everyone’s Rowing strategy. It is clear that supporting our coaches and volunteers with appropriate education and help at every level and stage is critical to the strength of clubs across Britain. As such, we have plans to try and address capacity and capability in clubs that want to work with us to try and grow, and get more people out on the water. Supported by great people facilitating those opportunities, be it through appropriate coaching or officiating on the river, sea or indoors.
The new Rower Development Guide platform, for example, launched this week and is something that we hope can provide a really useful tool and framework to support coaches and rowers develop athletically and technically, but, as always, your feedback as to what else is needed and how we can improve that support is always welcome.
We also want to hear from you to share the stories of your successes and what life is like in your club and community. We will continue to help share your experiences through our Club Masterclass webinar series with the next on club membership on 28 April. We are still looking for stories to highlight each month through our Down my Club series, so please do get in touch if you have a story you want to tell.
With the Masters training tips series continuing to gain a great following each week, a new more flexible membership offer is being developed as well as plans to try and encourage more recreational racing and there is some exciting work with the coastal community all in the offing, not to mention the World Rowing Coastal Championships & Beach Sprints Finals in Saundersfoot later this year, there are some exciting times ahead.
For those who want to row for good causes The Big Row campaign from our charitable partners Love Rowing is back from 1-30 May and we’re calling on all rowers – young or old, indoor or on-water, experienced or new – to come together to help us row around the circumference of the world – 40,075km! Choose your own challenge and then use it to raise funds through sponsorship using your personalised fundraising page and help more people experience the benefits of rowing, by either supporting current inclusive rowing projects or enabling new ones to get off the ground.
To close, whilst there is a huge amount to look forward to with rowing in Britain we must continue to take time to spare a thought for the members of the Ukrainian rowing community and the Ukrainian people as the atrocious war in Ukraine continues. So many clubs are doing their bit to raise much-needed funds to support them which has been great to see and thank you for showing what this sport can achieve when it works together towards a common goal.
I look forward to working with you all
British Rowing CEO