Rowing World Championships

The Rowing World Championships

Rowing dates all the way back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians, and it has existed as a competitive sport since the early years of the 18th century. During this time professional oarsmen would race against each other on London’s River Thames, with prizes awarded by the London Guilds and Livery Companies. Boat Clubs developed towards the end of the 1900s in Westminster School and Eton College, Britain’s most exclusive public schools, and Oxford and Cambridge, the country’s most respected universities.

This lead to amateur competitions taking off in a serious way, and public oaring competitions were soon popular as well. These were taken up all over the world, and are a major sporting discipline today. The most anticipated event in the boating calendar is definitely the World Championships, organised by the International Rowing Federation. It takes place over a week at the end of summer in the northern hemisphere, and is second only to the Olympics in terms of prestige.

History of the Championships

The very first Championships took place in 1962, in Lucerne, Switzerland. It was then held every 4 years until 1974, after which time it became an annual event. This was also the year that men’s lightweight and women’s open weight events were added to the programme, with women’s lightweight races making it onto the competition schedule in 1985. The Rowing World Championships have been held at the same time as the Summer Olympics, in the years that they occur, since 1996.

New Directions

As a dynamic organisation the International Rowing Federation is always open to expanding the World Oaring Championships and modifying the programme. This is just what happened on 2002, when adaptive rowing events were introduced for the first time. This meant that disabled athletes could also compete in the prestigious World Championships, furthering the principles of acceptance, inclusion and solidarity that all international sporting excellence competitions seek to promote. The classes of disability that are recognised in the Championships are Legs, Trunk and Arms or LTA; Trunk and Arms or TA and Arms and Shoulders, known as Category AS.

Boat Classes in the Championships

There are 21 different boat classes in the oaring events, except in the years when the Olympic Games are held and only non-Olympic boat classes take part. Olympic events are considered the premier competitions all over the world, so national teams are usually less interested and invested in their non-Olympic counterparts. Certain events, including the open weight Single Sculls and Quad Sculls races for men and women, the Double Sculls races for all categories, occur in both the Summer Olympics and the World Championships. This means that these races are not convened in the World Championship editions that take place during Summer Olympics years. Others such as the Single Sculls and Quad Sculls races for lightweight men and women are World Championship events only. The Coxed Fours race is an Olympic event only. The World Championships are always prestigious, but having fewer boat classes competing in the events means they are somewhat quieter during Summer Olympics years.