State of Masters Rowing Survey

Faster Masters Rowing recently published their 2nd annual State of Masters Rowing Survey which took place from November 24, 2023 through January 19, 2024.

Some interesting takeaways:

  • The survey predicts annual increases of 2%-5% each year in over 40s starting learn-to-row classes, presenting both challenges and opportunities for clubs.
  • A significant number of respondents started rowing later in life (there may be a survey respondent bias here, but it is interesting nonetheless).
  • Nearly 80% of Masters Rowers take part in races.
  • A large number are disappointed with their training progress and coaching access and quality.
  • Most collect training data (note that the survey allowed for practices such as simply recording times in a logbook, and not necessarily extensive data collection).
  • Challenges for clubs as well as individual rowers vary considerably.

Faster Masters hopes that Masters Rowing becomes a beacon for progress in rowing – enabling access for more adults to live healthy lifestyles, build community and also support the funding and growth of other groups within a rowing club. They see potential everywhere for Masters Rowing, but policy and strategy has to lead change for grassroots rowing provision.

The operational structure and strategy for Masters Rowing needs revision. Clubs and federations need to plan for significant changes in Masters participation over the coming years.

Based on their survey results, they predict annual increases in over 40s starting learn to row classes of 2%-5% each year. Many of these new rowers will join clubs and continue in the sport for ten years or more. The consequences of this are pressure on club size, equipment availability, coaching resources, and club finances. The opportunity this presents is increased revenues, growing participation and high profile for rowing as a proactive, friendly and age-agnostic sport.

Strategists need insight into structural impediments to the growth of Masters Rowing. These barriers are tightly grouped into four areas: coaching, equipment, fund raising and member recruitment. None is insurmountable with some forward planning, but all of these will disrupt a club who has not planned ahead to manage the balance of club resources. A failure to provide any one of these four rapidly affects the others and can take a a couple of seasons to “work through” the consequences and actions to redeem poor decisions from the past.

When writing club strategy, club boards must ensure that the rowing environment provided for masters incorporates elements of camaraderie and programmed fitness workouts as well as regatta competition. Equal weight is given to these three by our survey respondents. Therefore, clubs should be providing opportunities to socialize alongside rowing participation and need to create structures to ensure members get to know each other.

Data continues to be important for racing and there’s a knowledge gap in Masters cohorts between those who use and those who don’t use training and racing data to improve their performance. The number of athletes using data is rising – 5% more collect and analyze rowing data compared to last year.

To view the entire Annual Survey of Masters Rowing 2023, visit https://www.row2k.com/features/6288/state-of-masters-rowing-survey-2023/