of the perfect stroke
in amongst the many rowing regattas that take place throughout the world there are the
aptly titled masters regattas. the requirement is simply to be over the age of 27. masters
race in age groups and mixed events are prevalent.
Who are these people and where do they come
from? A recent survey by Stephen Seiler looked
at the makeup of the masters rower using a
questionnaire at the 2003 World Rowing Masters
Regatta and via the Internet. Seiler, professor
of sports in Norway at the Agder University
College at Kristiansand, worked on a sample of
1,021 responses, 70% male and 30% female.
The profile of the average masters rower looks
something like this: probably male, originally from
Europe and mostly formerly on their country’s
national or international team. Rowing is their
primary sport and it is likely that other family
members are, or have been involved in rowing.
They train four to five days a week and the most
common boat that they row in is a single.
The broader picture shows that masters rowers
cover a whole range from former international
rowers up to Olympic medallists, to athletes who
did not take up the sport until their 40s or even 50s.
The survey found:
• The rowers predominantly come from Europe,
North America and Oceania
• There are far more male masters rowers (roughly
70 per cent in the survey)
• It is more likely that women took up the sport
for the first time later in life, often due to their
children or partner rowing. In comparison, men
are commonly former international or national
medallists. This is especially the case amongst
the European male rowers.
• Amongst the North American women
masters more than 60 per cent of them began
competing as masters, whereas about half of
the European women had been elite rowers.
• For the men many of them came to rowing
through school or university sport although
European men and women commonly
entered the sport via local clubs, beginning as
• Health and what rowing does for their body
physically are the major motivators to continue
in the sport.
• The reason for competing, they say, is to add a
focus to the daily training.
• The majority of women (60 per cent) believe
that they will definitely be competing in five
years time while about 50 per cent of the men
say they will be.
• Many former top athletes are still looking for
the perfect stroke.
• The most common rowing-related injury
is lower back pain, which is also the most
common complaint in the general adult