ARA Rules of Racing - 1997 changes

Unofficial summary

Page produced 9 Feb 97; latest updates 9 Jun 99.

NEW: The 1998 & 1999 updates to the rules are summarised separately, but where appropriate this page has been updated to comply with the current rules (which are now available as an MS Word file from the ARA website, together with some other useful links).  

[Also see a copy  (thanks to Gavin Dods &  Bedford RC) of the ARA's guidance notes regarding points, issued in 1998.]

This summary attempts to identify some of the more significant changes in the ARA Rules of Racing. The new rules came into effect at the beginning of April 1997. The summary is merely intended to draw attention to some of the more significant changes as I see them, and does not constitute an official view from the ARA nor from the Working Party (now Sub-Committee) on the Rules of Racing. Copies of the new rules were distributed with the February 1997 issue of Regatta magazine, and they are in the 1997 Almanack, repeated (with minor updates) in the 1998 & 1999 Almanacks.  For details of the new rules it is important to refer to those rules as published. In case of conflict between this summary and the published rules, the published rules take precedence, but I should be grateful to be notified of any such discrepancy as soon as possible [e-mail to me].

As well as discussion within such organisations as Regional Umpires' Commissions, it has been intended that at least one "roadshow" for club representatives and regatta organisers would be held in each region, and many have taken place.

In the Thames Region two roadshows were organised, and there was further discussion at the Region's Umpires' seminars.  Please talk to whoever represented your club, regatta, or head race at one of the roadshows in your area, and ensure that the message is taken back to the club members.


I shall try to emphasise any particular aspects which appear still to be causing a little confusion.

NEW: The 1998 & 1999 updates to the rules are summarised separately.  

Remember to check your racing licence.  It is important that individuals & clubs (or schools) check racing licences carefully.  Embarassment  and severe administrative difficulty has been caused when regattas have checked cards & found that the points recorded did not agree with the the points expected, & hence that it has appeared that crews were ineligible for events they have won.

I have received a few questions about retrospective application of the rule changes, for example does a Junior International from a few years ago automatically get topped up to 6 points?  My understanding is that this topping up would NOT apply, and that the only retrospective effects are the regression for years without a qualifying win, and the ability to race Novice if the only wins have been at J14/J15.  [See note further down this page re transitional arrangements.]

Remember that for Juniors the age groups now change on 1st September, NOT 1st January, so J14s will have become J15s, J15s will become J16s, etc.  The age group for the Juniors is based on age as at the 1st September preceding the race.

I understand that some crews are still entering Senior 3 with too many points.  Please check the summary table.

If you are organising a Head Race, please remember to specify any local rules, for example whether coaching and steering from the bank is allowed.

*** RACING LICENCES***:  If you are racing, don't forget your racing licence.  Each week there are a number of winning competitors who are not receiving their trophies because they've forgotten to take their racing licence to the regatta.  A worrying number of crews went home empty-handed  from many regattas for this reason.  If you forget your racing licence, the regatta will withhold trophies not just from you individually, but from your whole crew [see the ARA's guidance notes], so you'll make yourself decidedly unpopular with your crewmates.  We are aware that the rule about racing licences is inconvenient, not only for competitors & clubs but also particularly for regatta organisers who have a difficult enough job anyway.  The rule was unfortunately necessary, as the only way to protect you honest competitors from the thankfully tiny minority who had been cheating in the past.  PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR RACING LICENCE (and remember it needs a photo attached).  Even if you are a 12 point competitor in an Elite event, your card still needs to be filled in because of the regression rule for those who don't win in a whole year.

NON-QUALIFYING RACES:  It still seems to be surprising a few people when they realise that a competitor can (after 1st April 1997) win more than one novice event.  If fewer than four crews race in an event, it is non-qualifying, and therefore the winners are not prohibited from further novice competition.  Similarly in a Senior event, if fewer than four crews start the event will not count for points.

START PROCEDURE:  The red flag should not be raised at the same time as saying "Attention".  The starter should say "Attention", then slowly and deliberately raise the red flag, then after a further positive and deliberate pause, the starter shall say "Go", simultaneously dropping the flag.  [Similarly, when using flip-disks or traffic lights, the red signal should be shown after saying "Attention", not at the same time.]

If there are any further points which you think might benefit from further clarification in this summary, please let me know, and I will see what I can do.



As FISA: Roll call - Attention - then slowly and deliberately raise red flag [no "Set"] - then further positive and deliberate pause - Go

[Mechanical or electronic system (e.g flip disks or traffic lights) allowed if approved and notified]


Qualifying win now if FOUR OR MORE CREWS RACE, with exclusions broadly as previously (though invitation races are no longer automatically non-qualifying).  The concept of qualifying races is no longer just applicable for Senior events, as events such as Junior or Novice also consider distinction between qualifying and non-qualifying wins in that class of racing.

Maximum points for Senior 3 now half what they were (now 8/4/2/1). Senior 2 & Senior 1 as they were (32/16/8/4 & 64/32/16/8 respectively). What was "Senior Open" now described as "Elite". New Senior 4 status (only for sweep-oared & not for Lightweights [but Women's Senior 4 has been included in the 1999 updates]) with max points limit half of Senior 3 (i.e. 4/2/1/N/A).

Summary of maximum Senior points for crew:
STATUS 8o/x 4o/x 2o/x 1x Notes
Elite no limit no limit no limit no limit
Senior 1 64 32 16 8
Senior 2 32 16 8 4
Senior 3 8 4 2 1
Senior 4 * 4 2 1 N/A * Only sweep-oared, and not Lightweight events.
Novice 0 0 0 0 No wins in qualifying novice event (or equivalent in Junior or Veteran)

One Senior point for the first qualifying J18A or Sch/J win in any one year (not for WJ18A or WSch/J).

Qualifying win at J18B, J16, WJ18, WJ16 counts as Novice win, but no longer do J15/J14 count for Novice, NOR DO NON-QUALIFYING (less than 4 crews racing).

12 points under previous rules for one who had competed at Olympics, World or FISA Championships (not Junior), now applies to one who has competed for GB Senior, Lightweight or U23 International Squads (as defined by BIRO). Top up to 6 points for Juniors when selected to represent GB at World Champs.

Lose 1 point for a calendar year without a qualifying senior win (down to minimum of 4 points).

[Transitional arrangements: Not listed  specifically in the new rules, but the basic situation is that you start from the points total you were at 1st April 1997 (e.g. each win which counted for a point under previous rules counts as a point), but can claim (via the ARA office) reduction for each year without a win (see preceding paragraph, & see forms in April & May '97 issues of Regatta magazine).  Your points total in the ARA's records will not be reduced without such a claim.  The only other respect in which the rule changes can be retrospective is that someone whose only wins have been at J15 or J14 can now row Novice, but again this claim should be made via the ARA.]

Previous rules specifically excluded women from men's crews, as well as vice versa.  An open  event was previously assumed, unless otherwise stated, to be a Men's event, but now there is no prohibition on Women in such a crew.  Separate events still for Women only, and for Mixed in specified proportions. (Weight for cox for Mixed now 50kg, not 45).  New rules don't seem specifically to allow a man to cox a woman's crew, and vice versa, but I believe that this is still intended to be allowed.


Age group changes now take effect on 1st September, so crew keeps same age group throughout academic year rather than changing on 1st January based on age at previous 1st September.


Any competitor who cannot produce these on request may be disqualified.

All winners' documents shall be produced and updated. Winning crews who cannot produce their documents shall not receive prizes until eligibility confirmed [see the ARA's guidance notes].

The roadshow emphasises that various responsibilities for maintaining a correct record of points fall on the ARA, the regatta, the club, and the individual competitor.  Each must do their best to ensure that points are correctly recorded.


Various rules which did not generally apply previously to heads (e.g. cox's weights, and prohibition of coaching) are no longer specifically excluded. Local rules may still be applied by each event.


Now more clearly defined, including power to fine and/or ban from competition, applicable to individuals or clubs.


It was previously a common practice for the umpire to raise the white flag to the vertical after a warning when the crew had returned to its proper course, before putting the flag out of sight. The new rules say that when the crew has responded the umpire drops the flag out of sight.

For heads, hoping to bring standards of officiating at all heads up towards those of regattas. Regional Umpires' Commission representation. Race Monitors still not necessarily licensed umpires, but encouraged to be so.

GENERALLY aiming to clarify, and to remove ambiguities and confusion.

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