Recreational rowing

Also known as social rowing and leisure rowing, recreational rowing is focused on fun, fitness and wellbeing. The term embraces a wide variety of rowers, equipment and activities.

How can recreational rowing benefit clubs?

recreational rowers in sweep four

Is recreational rowing for you?

Yes – if you enjoy rowing or coxing! Recreational rowers might:

  • Be experienced or new to the sport
  • Be technically proficient or fresh out of a ‘learn to row’ course
  • Train regularly on one or more days a week, or row on a more ad hoc basis – a crucial difference from racing squads is that the amount you do is entirely up to you
  • Be any age though most are over 40
  • Be able-bodied or adaptive
  • Only row from their club or take part in tours or exchange visits with other clubs
  • Use stable, ‘Explore’ boats or ‘fine’ (racing) boats
  • Participate in fun, informal and usually local races designed for recreational rowers.

Find a rowing club near you

To find a club that offers recreational rowing, just click the button below, and then under What are you looking for? choose A local rowing club to join and tick the Adult or Junior – Recreational box.

Find a rowing club near you
recreational rowers on a tour of the Norfolk broads

Recreational rowing equipment

Recreational rowers can use any type of boat. Many groups like stable boats, which are also known as ‘Explore’ boats or ‘C-gigs’ in continental Europe. These have a wider hull than racing boats. The advantages of stable boats are that they’re easier to balance and the coxing area is designed so that everyone can have a chance to cox as well as row. You can find out more about stable boats and suppliers here.

British Rowing/Charles Stanley stable boats for hire

Thanks to sponsorship by the investment management company Charles Stanley Wealth Management, there are two ‘packages’ of stables boats and trailers, which can be hired by clubs organising recreational rowing events such as tours and fun regattas.

Each package consists of a trailer with four stable coxed quads/fours (with sculling and sweep riggers) plus sculling and sweep oars.  These are located at Goring Gap BC on the Thames near Oxford and at Isle of Ely RC on the Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire.

Cost: £100 per day per package. Contact either club directly for more details.

Charles Stanley boats

Events for recreational rowers: Tours, leagues and challenges

Touring rowing

Rowing tours – from day trips to week-long expeditions – are a lot of fun, and a great way to explore a new waterway.  A tour can be as simple as a long outing up your own or another river (going through locks if necessary) or as complex taking a trailer load of boats abroad.

Every year there’s a British Rowing tour and also a World Rowing Tour. Various commercial organisations also run tours in Ireland, continental Europe and elsewhere.

Find out more about upcoming tours

Tour routes (British Rowing member login required)


Also known as Sunday Leagues and ‘splash and dash’ racing, these regionally-based, informal events involve short races or even skills challenges where several local clubs get together to have fun on the water. There are generally no statuses, men and women compete against each other, often in mixed crews, and both entry fees and prizes are modest. The cakes, however, are usually of championship standard.

There are currently well-established regional leagues on the Thames and in the North East and North West.

Find out more about leagues


Spice up your club-based sessions by organising occasional mini-regattas, involving relay racing or skills tests.

5 fun ways to take rec rowing further

crews in lock

Resources for recreational rowers and coaches

British Rowing Technique

Technique is a key aspect of a rower’s development, alongside physical and psychological development

Rowing Exercises

Exercises to improve your rowing technique, skills and confidence on the water


From the difference between a quad and a four, to 'rigger jiggers' and 'rating', get up to speed with common rowing terms


Staying safe is all about taking care to avoid accidents

Club Coaching Assistant Training

The Club Coaching Assistant provides an entry level for you to get involved in supporting rowing activities at your club

Rower Development Guide

All about British Rowing’s interactive online tool for both coaches and rowers

Rowing Warm Up

It's important to warm up your muscles before any form of exercise as this reduces the risk of injury


Coxes are responsible for the crew on the water, keeping a good lookout, steering the boat, issuing commands to the crew and motivating them, and more


Information about insurance cover for rowers, coxes, coaches, affiliated competitions and clubs

Learn to Row Course Outline

Learn to Row courses tend to use a basic ‘curriculum’ that is adjusted according to how participants progress. As a starting point, here is an outline for a typical six-session course.

Get Learn to Row course outline

Recreational rowing contacts

Got a question or need support in developing recreational rowing at your club? Start by contacting your British Rowing Recreational Rowing Committee regional rep (or the Chair) here.

British Rowing’s Recreational Rowing lead is the Director of Membership and Community, who can be contacted at

Recreational Rowing Committee Terms of Reference

Recreational rowers in a fine coxed quad