Origin of the Sport

Evidence of rowing dates back to Ancient Egypt with most major civilisations using rowing to advance their culture both in wartime and in peacetime.

The earliest recorded racing took place on England’s River Thames back in 1715 with the birth of the annual Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race – the oldest rowing race in the world.

The first half of the 19th century witnessed the birth of the historic Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race and historic Royal Henley Regatta in England. The sport then developed throughout Europe, North America and beyond during the rest of the century.

The World Rowing Federation (FISA) was formed in 1892 and became the first federation to join the Olympic movement.  Rowing made its Olympic debut at the second modern Olympics in Paris in 1900. It was on the programme at the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 but was cancelled due to bad weather. In non-Olympic years, the highlight of the rowing calendar is the World Rowing Championships.

How it Works

Rowing takes place on a lake or other body of water in which competitors typically compete in six lanes with the first boat across the line declared the winner. Masters rowers typically compete over a distance of 1000m. Olympic competition is contested over a 2000m distance.

Competitions are typically arranged through rounds; heats, quarters, semis and finals with the quicker boats advancing. A repechage progression system is also in place as a means for the slower boats to have a second chance to navigate their way through the rounds.

Rowing can be broadly separated into sculling and sweep racing. Sculling is where the rowers sit in the boat holding an oar in each hand and sweeping is where a rower has an individual oar, in which the handle is held in both hands. Sculling is typically contested in either single, doubles or quad boats and sweep racing in pairs, fours and eights. Note, some events will have an additional person in the boat known as a cox or coxswain, who helps steer the boat and offers coaching during the race.

World Masters Games Format

Participants will be divided into an age division categorised by a letter. For example, an A category rower is aged 27-35, B aged 36-42, C aged 43-49, D aged 50-54 and then in consistent five-year age brackets all the way up to J the 80+ year division. Seven disciplines take place at the 2017 World Masters Games; the single sculls, double sculls and quads and in the sweep events - pairs, fours and eights. An adaptive single sculls event - open for people with physical, intellectual or sensory impairments - will also feature on the programme.

Expected Number of Participants: 1000

Kiwi Hero – Mahe Drysdale

The former Tauranga Boys’ College student is a New Zealand sporting icon. Taking up rowing at Auckland University he finished fifth in the fours at the 2004 Athens Olympics before successfully switching to the single sculls, where he landed the first of his five world titles the following year. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics the 1.99m tall rower suffered a badly-timed gastrointestinal infection and he had to settle for bronze, but he finally earned Olympic gold in his favoured event at the London Games. Earlier this year Mahe secured his seventh  singles sculls medal at the World Championship with silver in Amsterdam.

Did You Know?

An eights boat which can carry up to around 800kg (around three quarters of a tonne) but can weigh as little as 90kg. The boats are often made of a composite fibreglass material.

How to Get Involved?