Becoming a Boat Race Official

Rowing Queensland conduct Boat Race Official courses.

The next course has been scheduled: Monday 12 July 6:30pm

Please RSVP your attendance to Karen Mills

or phone  07 3842 1200

Date: Monday 12 July

Time: 6:30pm registration

7pm-9pm course

We have had to change the venue for the course. For a couple of reasons, we can no longer use the RQ Boardroom. Samara Quinlan, Rowing Coordinator at Somerville HOuse, has kindly offered for us to use the Somerville Boatshed. Address is – 217-353 Brisbane Corso, Yeronga and for the visual among us:

What to bring: Karen will advise when you RSVP

Doing the course also requires some practical elements with supervision. This  requirement is easily completed at the actual regattas. This means you are volunteering in a meaningful way and getting certification at the same time. As well as ensuring that I am incredibly grateful to you!!!

What is the Role? Written by Karen Mills (Boat Race official)

The Boat Race Official (usually called Rowing Umpire) is a somewhat invisible role. When I speak with people and say that I am an Australian Rowing Umpire, most of the time I get blank looks and the question ‘What’s that?’ Having said that I can guarantee that a good regatta just doesn’t happen without us – Rachael will attest to that!

BROs are collectively called a Jury for a Regatta. Our absolute main role is to ensure Safety and Fairness of everything on water. We fill all the official roles on water and off, to make the regatta happen. Usual roles and numbers for BSRA regattas are:

  • Referee (1) – often called the President of the Jury – he/she is the boss for the day/regatta; at Wyaralong can usually be found at the finish line
  • Marshal (1) – usually on the water in a tinnie; meets the crews in the transit lane prior to their race and moves them onto the course at the right time and place
  • Umpire (4) – takes the crews for the race from the Marshal, moves them up to the start and hands them over to the Starter. After the start, controls the race to ensure there are no incidents (boats clashing, etc) and ensures a fair race. Takes the time for the race.
  • Starter (1) – lines the crews up and starts the race – a much more difficult role than 8 words can describe.
  • Aligner (1) – for the held races for the VIIIs the Starter is behind the start and the Aligner is off to the side to line up the crews.
  • Judges (2) – sit on the finish line (in the black trailer on Meebun Headland) and judge the finish order and the margins between places.
  • Control Commission – at local regattas we usually have a boat park walk through before the regatta starts to check the safety of the boats – there are a number of fittings that are critical, particularly if a boat capsizes. There are more duties under this heading at a State or National regatta.
  • Data Entry – can be involved both beforehand with taking scratchings and also entering results.

There are 4 levels of BROs:

  • Level 1 – local regattas – this is the starting point and this course that will be presented; once accredited, will usually fill the roles of Judge and Umpire
  • Level 2 – State level – can add in the other roles and participate at Sate level regattas
  • Level 3 – Australian Umpire – participate in National regattas
  • FISA – International Umpire – Olympics, World Champs, etc

As stated, our main remit is to ensure the safety of all rowers on the water. We are aided in this by the Safety Boats who are manned by volunteer drivers with a qualified First Aider. All on water personnel work very much as a team to ensure safety and we also want the rowers (oarswomen and coxswains) to enjoy their time and continue to row. The greater majority of us are ex-parents (BBC and St Aidan’s for me) and got involved to support our kids. Some of us enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie so much we are still here! ???? It is not essential to have rowed or hold a boat (RMDL) licence but both are an advantage. The ideal BRO is level-headed and can communicate effectively with teenagers i.e. less is more.

For the course – bring yourself, a pen and a laptop or tablet. The device is simply to register on the database that we use. Everything else will be provided. Please arrive from 6:30pm onwards to get the registration done before a 7:00pm start. The course runs for about 2 hours, depending on discussions, and I will likely be presenting it. That is all the theory required. After that it will be a case of coming to regattas and being mentored and then assessed mainly on the water as an Umpire and at the finish line as a Judge. Nothing too onerous.

After the theory on Monday 12th July, there will be practical training required at regattas in Umpiring, Judging and Control Commission (boat safety checks done before the regatta starts). Judging is at least one full regatta for adequate proficiency. Umpiring depends on the individual but will be 3 on water sessions as a minimum. There is no real way to say a specific amount of time of practical training as it depends on the individual’s skill set.

We are all volunteers and as with all organisations, we have an aging cohort, continually needing new people to feed in at the bottom. Getting a few new BROs every season will keeping the numbers ticking along nicely. As I have said, I got involved to support my kids while they were rowing with their schools. They are all in their 20s now and I am still here as I enjoyed the friendships I made so much, indeed taking it further to get my Level 3 accreditation in 2018.

Hope this helps give some idea as to what is involved.