STAGING CEO Membership Column - May 2020 - British Rowing

CEO Membership Column – May 2020

This month Andy provides an update on everything that’s happened this month, plus a special thank you to the volunteers in the community.


One month on, and we are starting to see signs of the rowing community preparing to get back on the water with some of you no doubt having had the chance to do so in a recreational capacity. I have had a number of messages about the joy of blistered hands and the wonderful feeling of a blade cutting through the water. But, as we all know, there is still much to do to get our sport back to some semblance of normality.

Over the last few weeks we have issued regular updates related to coronavirus (COVID-19) published on our digital channels and emailed to all our key stakeholders. The level of collaboration from across British Rowing has been great to see with staff and volunteers working very well together to deliver the best information possible for our members, clubs and events. Of particular significance was the publication of our Returning to Rowing guidance where we set out what may be possible at each phase of a return to rowing. I hope you have found this useful and enabled your club to make decisions about how best to get back on the water and what needs to be in place to do so. Our priority remains playing our part in the nation’s public health agenda so thank you for all your cooperation, assistance and patience as we slowly move through these phases.


As we focus on assisting clubs to prepare for Phase 3 when they may be able to open their doors (subject to complying with the various and pretty stringent requirements laid out by the government), we are developing guidance for coaching and competitions which we hope to be able to issue in the coming month. As with all our messaging and guidance, please remember that our Club Support team remains ready to help where we can. If you have any questions, in the first instance, please email

Alongside this, we have been assessing when and how the GB Rowing Team can return to the water and get back training for the now postponed Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games. Since the lockdown our athletes have been training from home on their ergos and completing as much of a regular training load as possible. They too are desperate to get back on the water but fully recognise that at this stage only recreational outings with strict limitations are able. I am very grateful for their patience at a time when they would normally be in the thick of an international racing season.

While much of the organisation has been focused on helping you, our members, return to rowing, we have also been active in developing content and programmes to provide you with a remote rowing fix. We have partnered up with our rowing friends in Australia, Canada and New Zealand firstly with the One Minute Challenge (with GBR coming first!!) and more recently with our Row to the Moon initiative, both of which have been very successful. Next up and later on this month we have our inaugural British Rowing Virtual Championships. This is in association with SAS, British Rowing’s Official Analytics Partner, who will be supporting data use and application across the Championships. We will continue to make sure we provide lots more to keep everyone busy during the (hopefully) final stages of lockdown.

Our webinar series has been well attended with a wide variety of topics covered. You can find all the upcoming webinars here. If you want to hear more about how we are preparing for a return to rowing you can join me, Ann Redgrave (Chief Medical Officer) and Nick Hubble (Chair of Sport Committee) on Thursday evening.

This week is volunteering week, so it feels highly appropriate to thank the many volunteers in clubs who have worked tirelessly to ensure that their clubs and their members are supported through this difficult period. Implementing processes to enable a return to rowing are complicated and may take time to put in place. At the same time, some volunteers may have been affected directly or indirectly by the virus and so rowing may well not be top of their priority list right now. So, if you are a member of a rowing club, please remember to say thank you to all the great volunteers who support our sport, both in times of crisis and once we return to whatever normal looks like in the future.

Stay safe, and stay patient.