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11 Jul 2022

The World Rowing Masters Regatta returns after a two-year break

After an enforced two-year pandemic-induced break, the World Rowing Masters Regatta has finally returned, taking place this year between the 7th and 11th of September in the French city of Libourne, France. World Rowing spoke to Ronald Chen, Chair of the World Rowing Masters Commission, about his thoughts on the event.

The World Rowing Masters Regatta organisers are naturally anxious to pick up from where they left in 2019 and resume one of World Rowing’s most successful events. Chen says, “it would be a welcome renewal of our lifelong commitment to sport and collegial competition if we could do so. It is certainly our hope that some things have not changed and that the masters rowing community will still look forward to this event as the annual celebration of rowing as a lifelong activity that fosters fierce but amiable competition.”

Chen proudly noted that the World Rowing Masters Regatta is, in some ways, even larger than the World Rowing Championships. In 2019, in Lake Velence, Budapest, the last time the Masters Regatta was run, well over 4,000 individual competitors from over 50 countries participated, with a packed schedule of 700 individual races held, with a race every three minutes. This compares well to the 2019 World Rowing Championships, which featured just 1,200 athletes.

The large size reflects the Masters Regatta’s inclusive nature. “Among our competitors, each year are former Olympic champions but also relative novices who learned about the sport later in life. But because of the size of the regatta, anyone in rowing can find a place or a level where they can compete, have a meaningful experience, and most of all, have fun” says Chen.

However, this doesn’t mean that competition is not taken seriously. Chen says that “while the regatta celebrates the unifying aspects of rowing worldwide, it does so through competition that in its own way can be as strong and fierce as any other World Rowing event.”

The master’s rowing community is vast and always growing, given anyone aged 27 or more becomes a member of this group. Therefore, reflecting the wider goals of the Masters Commission, alongside operating the annual regatta, Chen describes the need for World Rowing to “foster the development of the masters community generally throughout the globe, including in areas of the world in which that aspect of rowing is still in development.” Chen, in particular, encourages national federations and rowing clubs to support masters rowing programs at the local level.

A feature of masters rowers is that they are an assertive group, able to seize opportunities to independent build grassroots rowing and act as a vital catalyst for the wider sport, from supporting youth rowing to aiding Olympic-level aspirants. Chen concludes by reflecting : “Masters are usually key volunteers or leaders in national and global rowing activities. It seems that all masters need are a place to row and a reasonable facility that allows them to do so. After that, they can often take the initiative.”

If you want to take the initiative, there is still time to register for the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta here.

To learn more about the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta, please take look at their website here.