CEO Membership Column – December 2020

This month Andy highlights the contribution made by rowing volunteers throughout a difficult year and looks forward to 2021

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As the year comes to a close, I’d like to thank all the rowing community for their support over the last few months during the pandemic.

We are particularly grateful for the efforts of all the volunteers who have worked hard to ensure that their clubs and competitions are following the Government guidelines, swiftly adjusting to the latest COVID-19 advice when necessary in order to keep their members as safe as possible. I know that our members across the country are extremely grateful for all your efforts.

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I’d also like to thank everyone who has renewed their membership this year. Without the support of our members, we wouldn’t be able to provide the guidance, support and emergency funding that we have been able to offer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial situation for the medium term remains uncertain and the support of you, our members, is critical to our plans in 2021 and beyond.

Later this month, we will belatedly be celebrating some of our volunteers and coaches after the British Rowing Awards dinner had to be cancelled, so please do keep a look out for this on our social media channels. There are some great stories and an illustration of the sort of commitment out there in our local communities.

Staying with COVID-19, there was good news last month when the Government announced their plans for how local restrictions will be managed going forward post-lockdown in England.

We were delighted to confirm that the legislation allows for on-water rowing in crew boats to continue in all tiers and as clubs prepare to welcome members back to the water, we published our Managing COVID-19 guidance (previously entitled Return to Rowing guidance) to set out what each tier means for rowing, given the information published to date. If you haven’t seen this already, you can find it here.

The guidance is designed to be easy to read and applied to the whole rowing community (including coastal, fixed seat and indoor rowers) who may all be in different tiers with specific local restrictions in their areas. Importantly, it is also designed to be adapted and revised quickly, subject to the Government’s view and any upcoming changes.

Now we are able to row on the water again, we’re also exploring ways in which we can support those members who are keen to get back racing – the excitement of competition is clearly an important part of the sport. Last week, we announced an initiative to help get more local competition up and running, making it easier for clubs to organise Private Matches.

We are also continuing to explore ways to help get more Affiliated Competitions back up and running as well as helping our volunteer competition organisers as they look at what sort of racing might be possible to organise within the travel restrictions.

Moving indoors, many of you might have taken part in BRIC Online last weekend. With 2,520 entries from 42 countries, the Championships was a huge success and a great way to wrap up the year-end with so many of the rowing community taking part.

In a weekend of high-quality racing, provisional records include no less than six new British records, four world records and 10 new championship records in the adaptive rowing categories. Thanks to all involved – particularly the competitors, spectators and many volunteers whose hard graft behind the scenes enabled it all to happen.

A BRIC Online League was also offered, providing another way for indoor rowers worldwide to get involved.

As we head towards another year, there is some light in the tunnel, thanks to the extraordinary dedication of the world’s scientists. With luck, society will be able to gradually return to some sort of normal as we approach the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and Paralympics in the summer.

The pandemic has restricted our life in many different ways, but it has also reinforced the value of sport. Over the last few months, rowing has shown the role it can play in helping keep people fit and connected to their natural environment whilst also helping foster a real community spirit.

Enjoy your time back out rowing.

Wishing you and your family a happy and safe Christmas and here’s to a better 2021!.

Andy

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