Such shifts are an exciting part of elite competition. And with these shifts another feature has emerged – there are more opportunities than ever to race at a world championship event.   

When it comes to the total number of World Championship title races, 2018 was a record year.

The largest contributor to this growth may come as a surprise to many in the traditional water disciplines of the sport: indoor rowing. The first ever FISA sanctioned World Rowing Indoor Championship in Alexandria, Virginia (USA) created a raft of freshly crowned “World Rowing Indoor Champions”.

The next edition of this annual event is set to do so again on 24 February 2019 when rowers, Cross-Fitters, and ergometer enthusiasts from around the world gather in Long Beach, California (USA) for an event like no other (more information here

While the indoor rowing championships have had a significant impact on total numbers of world champions in rowing, the on-water events have also shown growth.

FISA’s four on-water World Championship status events in 2018 were: the World Rowing Coastal Championships the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, the World Rowing Junior Championships and, largest of all, the World Rowing Championships.

On top of this, the number of on-water gold medal races was the largest to date. And 2018 also boasted a balanced slate of boat classes across every World Championship regatta, seeing the number of races for men and women becoming the same

Another boost to overall medal races came at the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Victoria, British Columbia (CAN). The addition of the mixed double sculls in 2018 brought the number of coastal boat classes to seven.

World Rowing’s Junior and under-23 Championships both saw event growth and gender parity at their respective regattas in 2018. This was driven at the junior level by the inclusion of the women’s coxed four and at the under-23 level by the inclusion of the women’s coxed four and lightweight women’s pair.

With 29 World Championship title races on the programme, the 2018 World Rowing Championships contributed most to on-water growth, crowning more victorious crews than ever before in 13 men’s, 13 women’s and three mixed events. This came in the form of the lightweight women’s pair as well as four new para-rowing races (PR2 and PR3 single sculls and the pair for both men and women).

These latest changes highlight the steady evolution of World Rowing’s regattas and show how much has happened in the sport since a field of all male competitors raced in a mere seven events at the first World Rowing Championships in 1962.

Twenty-six individual gold medals were presented to that first cohort of World Champions in rowing. In 2018 the number of individual World Champions numbered 223 across 72 different events at World Rowing’s on-water Championship regattas alone, not to mention the first wave of World Rowing Indoor Champions.

Rowing truly is bigger than ever.