State of Masters Rowing Survey 2023

What is masters rowing like in other countries and for other athletes? We surveyed the Faster Masters Rowing newsletter audience and members of the Masters Rowing International Facebook Group to find out.

Top level findings

  • The operational structure and strategy for masters rowing needs revision. Clubs and federations need to plan for significant changes in masters participation over the coming years.
  • Based on our survey results, we predict annual increases in over 40s starting learn to row classes of 2-5% each year. Many of these new rowers will join clubs and continue in the sport for ten years or more.
  • The consequences of this are pressure on club size, equipment availability, coaching resource and club finances.
  • The opportunity this presents is increased revenues, growing participation and high profile for rowing as a proactive, friendly and age-agnostic sport.
  • Masters rowing is rarely a smooth path of consistent progress. “Rowing with adaptations” is our motto.
  • And so strategists need insight into structural impediments to the growth of masters rowing. These barriers are tightly grouped into four areas: coaching, equipment, fund raising and member recruitment.
  • None is insurmountable with some forward planning, but all of these will disrupt a club who has not planned ahead to manage the balance of club resources. A failure to provide any one of these four rapidly affects the others and can take a a couple of seasons to “work through” the consequences and actions to redeem poor decisions from the past.
  • When writing club strategy, club boards must ensure that the rowing environment provided for masters incorporates elements of camaraderie and programmed fitness workouts as well as regatta competition. Equal weight is given to these three by our survey respondents.
  • Therefore clubs should be providing opportunities to socialise alongside rowing participation and need to create structures to ensure members get to know each other.
  • Data continues to be important for racing and there’s a knowledge gap in masters cohorts between those who use and those who don’t use training and racing data to improve their performance. The number of athletes using data is rising – 5% more collect and analyse rowing data compared to last year.

Compare this to our previous survey in 2022.

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