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Your Complete Guide to Rowing Age Categories

rowing age categories

Hi everyone, it’s Petra again, and today, I want to address everyone who has high hopes for their racing endeavors this season.

Maybe you’ve only watched regattas before, or perhaps you used to row in college but haven’t competed in quite some time, and you’re wondering about what the age categories are. The rules regarding age categories vary a bit from country to country, so I will try to get in as many as I can.

If you don’t see your country listed in this article, you will need to contact your local rowing club to see what those age categories are.

I’m going to do my best to list all the applicable categories to make this relevant to everyone else. So, whether you sweep row or scull, are interested in a junior or masters event, are on the men’s lightweight crew or just want to know the average age of sculling events, this article is for you.

Are we ready? Let’s talk about the age requirements and how a competitor’s age is determined.

The US Rowing National Championship Rules

Let’s start with the US Rowing Rules regarding age categories.

1. Youth – As defined and classified by the United States Rowing Association, a Youth is a rower “who in the current calendar year does not attain the age of 19, or who is and has been continuously enrolled in a secondary school as a full-time student seeking a diploma. A competitor thus ceases to be a Junior after December 31 of the year of his or her 18th birthday, or of the year in which he or she completes the 12th grade of secondary school, having been a full-time student, whichever is later.”

Young boy rowing on the river

While that sounds fairly complicated, it simply means that if you turn 18 in June, you can still compete as a junior until December 31st.

2. Masters rowers– According to USRowing, a Master rower “is a competitor who has attained or will attain the age of 21 during the current calendar year. A competitor’s age is determined as of December 31 of the current calendar year, rounded down to the highest contained integer. A competitor thus becomes a Master on January 1 of the year of his or her 21st birthday. A Masters crew shall be comprised exclusively of Masters rowers, but the coxswain need not be a Master.”

team rowing on water

This leaves 19 and 20-year-olds out in the cold since they are too old for the Youth category but not old enough to be considered Masters. They can always act as a coxswain, however.

3. Age Groups for Masters rowers Scullers and Crews: “Masters crews shall be classified by age according to the following categories: (AA) 21 to 26 years, (A) 27 to 35 years, (B) 36 to 42 years, (C) 43 to 49 years, (D) 50 to 54 years, (E) 55 to 59 years, (F) 60 to 64 years, (G) 65 to 69 years, (H) 70 to 74 years, (I) 75 to 79 years, (J) 80 to 84, (K) 85 and over. The age category of a Masters crew shall be determined by the average age of the rowers in the crew, rounded to the nearest integer.

Again, this looks a bit complicated, but it isn’t really. When it comes to crews, you simply take the average age and place the crew in the appropriate category. Single scull needs to use the correct age category, but again, sculling crews can use the average age at Masters events held for the US Rowing National Championship RegattaSide Note:  If you are interest in indoor rowing weight categories be sure to read my other article.

What Are the Age Categories for Australia?

Australia has a very wide range of age groups, especially for the younger crowd.

Rowing Age Categories for Australia -

There are age categories for:

  • Under 14
  • Under 15
  • Under 16
  • Year 8 (Those who are in their 8th year of secondary school)
  • Year 9
  • Year 10
  • Schoolgirl/Schoolboy- “To be eligible to compete in Schoolboy or Schoolgirl events, a competitor must be enrolled at secondary school. A competitor ceases to be eligible for Schoolboy /Schoolgirl events from 1 January in the year in which he/she turns 19 years old.”
  • Masters Rowers Age Categories

A. 27-35 years

masters rowing age categories -

B. 36-42 years

C. 43-49 years

D. 50-54 years

E. 55-59 years

F. 60-64 years

G. 65-69 years

H. 70-75 years

I. 75-79 years

J. 80+ years

Are the Age Rules the Same for New Zealand?

When it comes to Masters rowers and Masters crews, they are nearly the same, but there are a few differences.

First, Every rower under the age of 18 years is classified as a junior rower. Also, Masters start at age 26, not 27.

New Zealand also limits its age categories by average age, not actual age.

For Masters rowing events the following crew age categories shall apply:

Rowers Category
A Minimum age: 27 years
B Average age: 36 years or more
C Average age: 43 years or more
D Average age: 50 years or more
E Average age: 55 years or more
F Average age: 60 years or more
G Average age: 65 years or more
H Average age: 70 years or more
I Average age: 75 years or more
J Average age: 80 years or more
K Average age: 83 years or more
L Average age: 86 years or more
M Average age: 89 years or more

Rules notwithstanding, there isn’t a whole lot of change, but a few noticeable differences in the age categories.

What Are the Age Categories for the UK?

While most other countries list either December 31st or January 1st as the cut-off date for age determination, the UK uses the 1st of September for its age rule for juniors.

Juniors are those below 18 years old by September 1st and will follow this age classification:

Rowers Category
Junior 11 below 11 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 12  below 12 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 13 below 13 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 14 below 14 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 15 below 15 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 16 below 16 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 17 below 17 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September
Junior 18 below 18 y.o. by 00:00 on 1st of September

Rowers may also compete in the Under 19 (U19) and Under 23 (U23) categories until December 31 of the year they attain the age of 18 and 22, respectively.

For example, a rower competing for events in 2022 under the U23 level must have been born on or after the 1st of January 2000. In other words, a competitor is disqualified if he/she turns 23 y.o. by December 31, 2022.

When it comes to Masters crews, the age categories are also determined by the average age of the crew by the 31st of December:

Rowers Category
A 27 years of age or a single sculler
B  36 years of age
C  43 years of age
D 50 years of age
E 55 years of age
F 60 years of age
G 65 years of age
H 70 years of age
I 75 years of age
J 80 years of age
K 85 years of age
L 86 years of age
M 89 years of age

While the UK says that it is considering making age category M 89 and up, at this moment, if you are more than 89 years of age, there is no age category and your competitor’s status will remain up in the air.

Does the Coxswain Need to Meet the Minimum Age?

No. None of the countries that I have listed above or that I have read about have any requirements for the coxswain. They can be male or female, or much lower/higher in the age category.

team of rowers waiting to start a race

The choice of a coxswain is left to the decision of the crew.

The Bottom Line

There are a few differences between the age categories, especially when speaking about junior rowers under the age of 23 and minimum age for Masters rowers.

Keep in mind that many regattas also have weight class or weight categories in addition to the age requirements.

Find an event near you and get started at your local club today! With a little practice, you could be the winner at next year’s regattas!

Let’s keep rocking and rowing!

2 thoughts on “Your Complete Guide to Rowing Age Categories”

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