World Rowing Federation

Last updated
World Rowing
World Rowing Federation logo.svg
Sport Rowing
Category Sports federation
AbbreviationWR, FISA
Founded25 June 1892;131 years ago (1892-06-25)
Headquarters Lausanne, Switzerland
President Jean-Christophe Rolland
Vice president(s) Tricia Smith
Official website

World Rowing, also known as the World Rowing Federation (former abbreviation FISA; French : Fédération internationale des sociétés d'aviron), is the international governing body for rowing. [1] Its current president is Jean-Christophe Rolland who succeeded Denis Oswald at a ceremony held in Lucerne in July 2014.


The World Rowing Cup, World Rowing Championships, and other such competitions are overseen by this organization.



It was founded by rowing representatives from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Adriatica, and Italy on 25 June 1892 in Turin in response to the growing popularity of the sport of rowing, and the consequent need for uniformity of regulations over such matters as race lengths, boat composition, and weight classes. Also, at the time, betting on rowing was very popular, and the rowers or coaches were themselves often taking bets. Amateur status, while widespread in England and elsewhere, was unknown in the sport in many nations, a state of affairs which could lead to corruption such as thrown races.

The first regatta organised by the newly formed FISA was the European Rowing Championships and was held in 1893 in Orta, Italy. It only had 10 entries in 3 events and no professional participants. By 1925, the 27th European Championships, held in Prague, included 24 entries in 10 different events.

FISA established its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1922. [2]

FISA was the first international sports federation to join the Olympic movement. It has been on the Olympic program since the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. (The rowing events at the 1896 games were cancelled because of high winds). Each country that participates in rowing has a federation or governing body which belongs to the World Rowing Congress. These federations (of which there are currently 157) [3] have overall control of what World Rowing does.

FISA decided in 1955 that only a united German team could compete at international rowing championships; this first applied to European Championships and later, from the inaugural in 1962 onwards, to World Championships. This required that East and West Germany held selection trials, with the winning country for each boat class choosing the rowers who would compete at the championships. Over the years, the relationship between the two German countries deteriorated, and East Germany made seven application to FISA congresses to be recognised as a separate and independent country. [4] On the seventh occasion, there was insufficient time to discuss the issue at the congress held in Duisburg just prior to the men's competition of the 1965 European Rowing Championships. FISA president Thomas Keller stated that an extraordinary congress were to be held in November in Vienna that would discuss the issue, and that he personally saw no problem with solving the problems. [5] In October 1965, the International Olympic Committee decided that East Germany was to have its own team at future Olympic Games. [6] At the FISA congress in November 1965, the East German application found forty-six votes of support, four abstentions (from Germany and Austria), and no votes of disapproval. [7] At the same congress, Keller's proposal to not play national anthems or raise flags during medal ceremonies was also approved. [8] These changes first applied at the European Championships (for women) in August 1966 and then the World Championships (for men) two weeks later in September.

In response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, World Rowing banned athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus from international competitions. [9] A year later, it started a working group tasked with reinstating Russian and Belarusian athletes. [10]


FISA is led by a president. The following list gives presidents since 1924:


At the 2022 Ordinary Congress, World Rowing admitted its 157th member. [11]


World Rowing organises a large number of international rowing events throughout the year.


World Rowing has been sponsoring the program for rowing events at the Olympic games since the initial Olympic games in 1896 in Athens. It is also responsible for running the qualification program to select the participants for the games.


World Rowing has been sponsoring the program for rowing events at the Paralympic games since the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. It is also responsible for running the qualification program to select the participants for the games.

World Rowing Cup

Started in 1997, the World Cup comprises three regattas held in late Sprint and early Summer.

World Rowing Championships

A week-long regatta held every year. During Olympic years, only non-Olympic boat classes race.

World Rowing Under 19 Championships

Running since 1967, the World Rowing Junior Championships is for those who are under 18 by the end of the current calendar year. During Olympic years it is held at the same time as the World Rowing Championships. Since 2021, the name 'Under 19' has been used instead of 'Junior'.

World Rowing Under 23 Championships

First held in 1976, this regatta is for those too old for the Junior Championships but who do not turn 23 by the end of the current calendar year (previously categorised as Senior B by FISA). The event was originally named the Nations Cup and opposed by FISA. In 2002 the name was changed to the World Rowing U23 Regatta and further changed to World Rowing U23 Championships in 2005.

World Rowing Coastal Championships

First held in 2006. Races are help over 4 km and 6 km courses in coastal specific boat. Can include beach starts and finishes. [12]

World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals

First held in 2019 in Shenzhen, China. Races are started on a beach with the athlete running to their boat, before rowing a 250m slalom, then turning 180° at the far end and returning to the beach in a straight line. Upon reaching the beach the athlete leaves the boats and runs and dives to a buzzer on the ground. [12]


World Rowing Indoor Championships

World Rowing, in partnership with Concept2, USRowing and the Erg Sprints organising committee of Alexandria, Virginia, United States, announced the first World Rowing Indoor Championships to be staged in Alexandria from 17 to 18 February 2018. [13]


World Rowing Masters Regatta

Held since 1973, this event is for rowers 27 years of age or over. Men and women compete in age categories ranging from "A" (27 to 35) to "K" (85 and older). The largest annual international regatta, in 2013 it attracted approximately 3500 competitors who competed in 440 races over four days. There are also events for mixed crews – where half the crew is men and half women (excluding cox). The 2010 regatta took place in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, 2011 in Poznan, Poland, 2012 in Duisburg, Germany, 2013 in Varese, Italy, 2014 in Ballarat, Australia, 2015 in Hazewinkel, Belgium, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2017 in Bled, Slovenia, 2018 in Sarasota, Florida, USA, and 2019 in Lake Valence, Hungary. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 regatta was a virtual competition on indoor rowers. The 2021 regatta will be in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, 2022 in Libourne, France, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa, and 2024 in Brandenburg, Germany.

World Rowing Sprints

A new idea introduced in 2002 as an attempt to bring rowing to the centre of cities. The first (and only) event took place on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London and was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. Crews from Great Britain, United States, Germany, and the Netherlands took part in the 500 m race. Famous rowing champions raced, including Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell, and Marcel Hacker.

Each team was made up of 13 rowers (5 women, 7 men, and a cox). Events were held in Women's Single Sculls, Men's Single Sculls, Women's Double Sculls, Men's Pairs, Women's Pairs and Men's Fours. These crews then combined to form Mixed Quad Sculls and Eights.

Great Britain were the eventual winners and crowned the Mercedes-Benz Sprints Champions.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rowing (sport)</span> Sport where individuals or teams row boats by oar

Rowing, sometimes called crew in the United States, is the sport of racing boats using oars. It differs from paddling sports in that rowing oars are attached to the boat using oarlocks, while paddles are not connected to the boat. Rowing is divided into two disciplines: sculling and sweep rowing. In sculling, each rower holds two oars, one in each hand, while in sweep rowing each rower holds one oar with both hands. There are several boat classes in which athletes may compete, ranging from single sculls, occupied by one person, to shells with eight rowers and a coxswain, called eights. There are a wide variety of course types and formats of racing, but most elite and championship level racing is conducted on calm water courses 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) long with several lanes marked using buoys.

The World Rowing Championships is an international rowing regatta organized by FISA. It is a week-long event held at the end of the northern hemisphere summer and in non-Olympic years is the highlight of the international rowing calendar.

The European Rowing Championships is an international Rowing regatta organised by FISA for European rowing nations, plus Israel which, though not a member of the European federation is treated as a European nation for competition purposes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rowing at the Summer Olympics</span> Pinnacle event in rowing

Rowing has been part of the Summer Olympics since its debut in the 1900 Games. Rowing was on the program at the 1896 Summer Olympics but was cancelled due to bad weather. Only men were allowed to compete until the women's events were introduced at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal which gave national federations the incentive to support women's events and catalysed growth in women's rowing. Lightweight rowing events were introduced to the games in 1996. Qualifying for the rowing events is under the jurisdiction of the World Rowing Federation. World Rowing predates the modern Olympics and was the first international sport federation to join the modern Olympic movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Keller (rower)</span>

Thomas Keller also known as Thomi Keller was the president of Féderation Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA), the governing body of international rowing, from 1958 until his death in 1989, and president of the General Association of International Sports Federations from 1969 to 1987. He was also a qualified chemical engineer and president of Swiss Timing, a company specialising in sports chronometry which is now part of the Swatch group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of rowing sports</span>

The history of rowing as a sport has prevailed it as one of the oldest traditions in the world. What began as a method of transport and warfare eventually became a sport with a wide following, and a part of the cultural identity of the English speaking world. Rowing in its modern form developed in England in the 1700s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caryn Davies</span> American rower

Caryn Davies is an American rower. She is the winner of the 2023 Thomas Keller Medal, the most prestigious international award in the sport of rowing, and the only American to have ever won this award. She won gold medals as the stroke seat of the U.S. women's eight at the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. In April 2015 Davies stroked Oxford University to victory in the first ever women's Oxford/Cambridge boat race held on the same stretch of the river Thames in London where the men's Oxford/Cambridge race has been held since 1829. She was the most highly decorated Olympian to take part in either [men's or women's] race. In 2012 Davies was ranked number 4 in the world by the International Rowing Federation. At the 2004 Olympic Games she won a silver medal in the women's eight. Davies has won more Olympic medals than any other U.S. oarswoman. The 2008 U.S. women's eight, of which she was a part, was named FISA crew of the year. Davies is from Ithaca, New York, where she graduated from Ithaca High School, and rowed with the Cascadilla Boat Club. Davies was on the Radcliffe College (Harvard) Crew Team and was a member on Radcliffe's 2003 NCAA champion Varsity 8, and overall team champion. In 2013, she was a visiting student at Pembroke College, Oxford, where she stroked the college men's eight to a victory in both Torpids and the Oxford University Summer Eights races. In 2013–14 Davies took up Polynesian outrigger canoeing in Hawaii, winning the State novice championship and placing 4th in the long-distance race na-wahine-o-ke-kai with her team from the Outrigger Canoe Club. In 2013, she was inducted into the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame and in 2022 into the Harvard University Athletics Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Achim Hill</span> East German rower

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1978 World Rowing Championships</span> International rowing regatta in New Zealand

The 1978 World Rowing Championships were World Rowing Championships that were held from 30 October to 5 November at Lake Karapiro near Cambridge, New Zealand. Twenty-eight countries were represented at the regatta. In the history of the World Rowing Championships, 1978 was the only year when the lightweight rowing championships were not held in conjunction with the open men and women event; the lightweight events had already been held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in August.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rowing at the 2016 Summer Olympics</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rowing at the 2020 Summer Olympics</span> Rowing events at the 2020 Summer Olympics

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of women's rowing</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1973 European Rowing Championships</span>

The 1973 European Rowing Championships were rowing championships held at the regatta course on the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal in Moscow, Soviet Union. The competition was the first use of the venue. There were seven competitions for men and five for women. World Rowing Championships were held, up until 1974, at four-year intervals, and the European Rowing Championships were open to nations outside of Europe and had become to be regarded as quasi-world championships. From 1974 the world championships changed to an annual schedule, and the European Rowing Championships were discontinued. It was only in 2006 that the International Rowing Federation (FISA) decided to re-establish the European Rowing Championships, with the 2007 event the first regatta after the hiatus.

The 1953 European Rowing Championships were rowing championships held on Lake Bagsværd near the Danish capital Copenhagen. Men competed in all seven Olympic boat classes. The regatta was also the third test event for international women's rowing organised by the International Rowing Federation (FISA), with nine countries competing in four boat classes over the shorter race distance of 1,000 m. The purpose of the test event was to see whether women's rowing should formally become part of the FISA-organised European Rowing Championships.

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The 1897 European Rowing Championships were rowing championships held on Lake Maggiore in the Italian commune of Pallanza on 8 September. The competition was for men only, four nations competed, and the regatta had four boat classes. At the FISA Congress held on the same day as these championships, it was decided that the double scull boat class would be introduced in the following year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oliver Zeidler</span> German swimmer and rower

Oliver Zeidler is a German rower and former swimmer. He is the reigning world champion in the men's single scull won at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and defended at the 2022 World Rowing Championships. He is the current World Games champion in indoor rowing in the open men's 2000 m class.


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  2. "International Rowing Federation". CRW Flags. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  3. "About FISA". World Rowing Federation. Retrieved 1 February 2018. The World Rowing Federation, FISA (from the French, Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron) is the governing body of the sport of rowing
  4. "Erwartungen" . Berliner Zeitung (in German). Vol. 21, no. 232. 24 August 1965. p. 2. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
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  8. "Längst überfällig ..." . Neues Deutschland (in German). Vol. 20, no. 315. 15 November 1965. p. 4. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  9. "World Rowing coaching director Postiglione ends association with Russia". May 27, 2022.
  10. "FISA to consult members over Russian and Belarusian inclusion at Paris 2024". 20 February 2023.
  11. "2019 FISA Member National Federations" (PDF). FISA. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  12. 1 2 "Coastal/Tour". Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  13. "The first World Rowing Indoor Championships announced". Retrieved 1 February 2018.