Surf Rowing

The surf boat was developed in Australia to be used as a rescue boat for swimmers and other sea users who found themselves in trouble in heavy surf.

The concept has also been popular as a sport in its own right and the first race in the surf took place near the mouth of Sydney harbour in 1908 where competitors borrowed boats from ships in the harbour. Following this, the first purpose built surf boat race was held at the Freshwater surf carnival in 1915, where six clinker-built craft were raced. The design specifications for the surf boat were formally drawn up in 1955 and have changed very little since then. However, over time, inflatable boats have replaced the traditional surf boats for life saving.

Surf racing now takes place in fibreglass boats weighing around 180kg; each boat has four rowers and a steersman standing at the stern. Racing begins by launching the boats from the beach then racing round a buoy and returning to the beach through the surf.

The UK Surf Rowing League was set up in 1999 with most racing taking place between May and September.