an Endangered Species?
The underlying principle of FISA’s Progression System is that each crew should have two chances to make it to the A Final. Until
now, this was achieved with the repechages.
© 2007 Getty Images
Outlined in FISA’s Rules and Regulations, the
Progression System determines the number
of races (heats, repechages, semifinals and
finals) in each boat class depending on the
number of entries at a World Rowing event.
This system was developed many years ago.
The basic principle is that everyone should
have two chances to reach the finals or
the semifinals. This second chance is in the
qualifying for the A Final. The athletes, usually
conditioned to the principle of “first three”,
found themselves in an unusual situation
where access to the final was limited to only
With the increase in participating countries,
there has been an increase in boat classes with
entries of more than 24 competing crews. It
became theoretically possible that a medal
contender could finish third in a semifinal
and miss out on the A Final. This came under
question in 2005 and a proposal for a new
system was developed: the quarterfinals,
replacing the repechages.
rule. The advantages of the new system are
twofold: the top three crews move forward
to the semifinal, thus protecting possible
medals in boat classes with up to 36 and even
48 contenders, and all finalists reaching the
final round will have rowed the same number
The repechage, a crew’s second chance to
qualify for the A Final, works well when a boat
class has up to 12, 18 and even 24 entries. But
seven years ago FISA felt that a better sorting
of the competitive levels would take place by
including three semifinals when more than
24 boats were participating, with the top two
The new system will prove especially fair in
the Olympic qualification year, guaranteeing
a clear process to the B Final, where Olympic
qualification actually takes place.
The quarterfinal system was introduced
in 2006 as an experiment and in 2007 as a