FISA 2009 Extraordinary Congress Cape Town

  Report from the FISA Extraordinary Congress 2009 in Cape Town

The proposal to limit the number of boats per nation in the Olympic rowing events to 10 of the 14 Olympic classes was raised at the FISA Extraordinary Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. At this stage no action will be taken.

The proposal, which was tabled by the Swiss Rowing Federation, to the 130 member nations of FISA, the International Rowing Federation, at the Extraordinary Congress, was aimed at giving smaller “developed” nations a better chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

At the Congress, FISA’s Council informed the delegates that the mechanics of the Swiss proposal would have been very complicated, if not impossible, to apply to the qualification process but acknowledged the issue raised by the Swiss Rowing Federation. The Council suggested that the issue would be seriously addressed when discussions started on the 2012 Olympic qualification system. The Swiss Federation withdrew their proposal on the understanding that the Council would fully analyse the situation over the coming months. The matter would then be placed on the agenda of the annual FISA Congress to be held following the 2009 World Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland, on 31 August.

When Switzerland first announced the proposal it was met with criticism from strong rowing nations like Great Britain, Canada and Australia who aim to qualify as many boats as possible for the Olympic Games. At the Beijing Olympics, Australia qualified in all 14 boat classes while Germany and the United States qualified 13, Great Britain 12 and China 11 boats.

Lightweight weighing in times at regattas was hotly debated with the British Rowing Federation’s proposal being accepted. In cases where one lightweight event is raced more than once on the same day, the competitors will now have to weigh in just once, before the first race. All crews in this event must weigh in at the same time regardless of whether they are racing in the earlier round or not. For example if repechages and semifinals are raced on the same day, all crews that have qualified directly for the semifinals would only weigh in before the repechages in the morning, and not two hours before their afternoon race. This scenario does sometimes arise at the Rowing World Cup regattas. The Council proposed that rowers would have to weigh in two hours before their race, according to the rules, regardless of whether it was their second race of the day or not.

The automatic removal rule for events with seven or less entries over a three-year period will not apply for boat classes at the Junior and Under 23 Championships that have an Olympic Games equivalent. The current criteria states that if the number of entries is below seven for three consecutive years then it will be dropped as an event. It was also decided that the lightweight men’s eight would no longer be ‘protected’ from the below seven rule. This eight will now be subject to the same rules governing automatic removal from the programme.

The lightweight women’s quadruple sculls event has been added to the World Rowing Under 23 Championships. This proposal was put forward by the Australian Rowing Federation which stated that, as the lightweight women’s quad is a World Championship event, it was important to provide racing opportunities at the under-23 level in order to prepare lightweight women for higher competition. 

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