Masters aged over 27 are one of the fastest growing memberships of our sport. And yet they are poorly served by many clubs. Rebecca Caroe, the author of this article is sure: “This isn’t just a UK problem, I have evidence that this situation is matched throughout the world”.
Masters Rowing International
This Rowperfect Facebook Group ” Masters Rowing International” asks 3 questions when people join the group including “What are your frustrations with rowing?” The answers consistently fall into the same themes. I’ve listed them at the bottom of the article.The question is do we, as a sport, want to solve these problems?
Grumpy old men
There are always those whose priorities don’t align with our own. In my club one of the coaches says the thing he hates most about the sport is masters! So what is good about masters?
- They pay their membership dues
- They are happy to use club boats at non-priority times
- They help with fund raising
- They are parents of junior rowers
- Some can coach
Some clubs “reward” masters with the worst, oldest boats and no coaching support. How long will it be before they vote with their feet and go elsewhere?
We can do better.
Masters Regatta, Ladies 2x, in Hungary
The more masters the merrier
Masters membership growth is so rapid that the British Masters Regatta is one of the best-supported in the country. Henley Masters “sells out” rapidly every year. Masters have money to spend.
My challenge to everyone reading this is to go to your club committee and ask what the club can do for your masters group.
- Have you asked for coaching?
- Have you asked masters to help fund raising?
- Have you given masters access to boats and oars?
- Can you up skill masters to self-coach most of their outings?
To respond to masters’ frustrations, I started a new business – Faster Masters Rowing. It sells training programmes, land training and technique coaching advice on a subscription. Available for individuals, crews and whole club groups, it is getting rave reviews from users.
Write your comments below and tell us what solutions you’re finding that work for clubs and for masters.
List of Masters Frustrations
Lack of people
- To make age group crews. SOLUTION: Use Facebook groups to find others to fill the seats
- We don’t have enough depth to have well matched rowers. SOLUTION: Pro-active recruitment for returning rowers and learn to row classes
- Not being able to find others who are competitive and who row well. SOLUTION: Use Facebook groups
- Too few regattas nearby. SOLUTION arrange private matches against local clubs, Provide committee boats so you don’t have to trailer over. Up to 4 clubs can be invited to a private match without having to get event insurance (in UK)
- Lack of competition in Ireland. SOLUTION – race down a category, grow your own headcount with Learn to Row groups, arrange private matches, use the handicap system to race across boat classes / age groups https://www.rowperfect.co.uk/adjusting-race-times-for-masters-rowers/
- Not enough national competition for experienced masters rowers who came to the sport later in life. SOLUTION – Lobby your federation to copy British Rowing who has introduced a masters novice category.
- Having to borrow boats for regattas. SOLUTION – Use the Rowperfect Masters Rowing International Facebook group to find people willing to loan / hire boats.
- Finding a coxswain. SOLUTION: use your juniors (often masters are parents of young people aged 10-14 who are not yet rowing). Take it in turns to cox using a plank across the gunwale of the boat.
- Not enough experienced boat maintenance volunteers. SOLUTION – pay someone to come and teach more of you how to rig a boat and do small repairs.
- Equipment designed for men. SOLUTION Fund raising or arrange to share boats with the school kids groups.
- Not having consistent practice and racing boats. SOLUTION get masters representation on your club committee and force the discussion to accommodate your needs along with other racing groups.
- Being able to find and afford regular instruction to improve my skills. SOLUTION give Masters enough information on drills and training workout to self-coach some of the time. Or buy remote coaching.
- Having enough time to train and coach.
- Availability of consistent training time, coaches, and sharing boats with recreational rowers at our club. SOLUTION get masters representation on your club committee.
- No local organisation: SOLUTION: Get together with others and make a virtual club to suit your needs.
- Women Masters Training: Photocredit: Stephen Robinson
- Trying to get consistent attendance during Masters practice! SOLUTION: Masters groups have to be more flexible than others because of their busy lives. Use a software attendance system to advance book sessions and attendance FitClub, iCrew, MyFleet, Teamer App, Squadlist, and a list here and another list here.
- The ergometer. A key element of enjoying masters rowing is self delusion. Objective physiological testing ruins this! There is no solution to this!!
*The Author: Rebecca Caroe is the host of the RowingChat Podcast