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Notes for Potential Candidates


The Thames Region has more competitors, Regattas and Head Races than any other part of the UK. To ensure every event has sufficient licensed Officials there needs to be at least 110 active people on the Umpires list. There is a great variety of events and opportunities for Umpiring in the Thames Region are limited solely by the availability of the individuals on the list.

Umpires come from a variety of backgrounds within the sport. It is helpful if you have competed yourself, although many successful Umpires have come into the sport via Administration or through their involvement with a Head Race or Regatta.

Umpiring is entirely voluntary but many events provide hospitality for their Officials. There are opportunities to move on to obtaining a Multi-Lane endorsement to your Licence and a number of Umpires from our Region have gone on to obtain their International (FISA) Licence.

For Insurance reasons, Umpires are required to be members of 'British Rowing'.


An Umpires Licence is granted for three years. During this time you would be expected to do a minimum of six events each year. Event Secretaries are at liberty to invite the Umpires of their choice, and an Umpires Licence is valid for the whole country. It is common practice for Umpires to work 'out of Region'. There is, of course, no limit to the number of events an individual can choose to attend. Commonly a Regatta will expect an Umpire to be available for at least half of the day. Within the Thames Region we operate a scheme which matches Umpires seeking work to events that are short of Umpires.


Umpires duties at events vary enormously. For example, Race Starters, Aligners, Umpires, the Chief Judge and the Head of the Control Commission must be licensed Umpires. A Regatta must have a Race Committee whose Chair and at least two other members must be Licensed. Many events use Umpires to check the 'points books' before releasing the prizes. At a Head Race the Chief Umpire must be licensed.


Training starts in January or  February and finishes in the Autumn. After an introduction evening, candidates take a written exam a few weeks later.

In April, they ideally attend an Umpires Seminar. These Seminars are held each Spring and every Umpire must attend a Seminar at least every three years. They are a vital communication link between Umpires.

Candidates attend a minimum of two heads and six regattas during the season. Here they are given an opportunity to experience the work of Umpires and to practice their own skills. At regattas each candidate's performance will be observed and marked by an examiner.

Before the exam in July/August a 'mock' practical' exam is offered to all candidates where they can practice on the 'table-top' courses used for the exam.

Successful candidates will not formally receive their licence until the National Umpires Commission meets in the following January. However, once they have passed their practical exam, they will be encouraged to work at events in the Autumn and Winter, under supervision.

Supervision and Standards

The Training Commissioners; currently Roy Prosser and Gary Painter, ensure that each candidate receives the training, advice, supervision and support that is appropriate. They (and/or other commission members) attend the training Regattas and ensure that the trainees are given every chance to reach the required standards.

The Thames Region believes it has the best Umpires and the best training programme in the UK. The standards demanded are high and exacting. Only this way can we provide our competitors with the fair and safe racing they deserve.

Syllabus for Umpire Training

The aim of the training process is to produce competent umpires who will be able to officiate in a professional manner with the constant theme of BR rules 61-1 a & b guiding them. (Latest 2017 revision)

6-1-1 a. It is the primary duty of every Race Official to care for the safety of competitors, officials, other water users and the public at large.

6-1-1 b. Subject to 'a' above, it is the duty of all Umpires to ensure that all crews have a fair and equal opportunity of winning

In order to do this effectively an umpire must have -

  • A thorough knowledge of the rules of racing.
  • Experience in the sport which will enable the umpire to behave in a way which is sympathetic to the competitors, bearing in mind their experience and age.
  • An ability to combine both of the above in the handling of races and the situations before and after races.

An umpire's training shall progress in four stages.

1. Initial Application - prior to January of training year

Candidates shall be invited, or submit their applications for training to the Secretary of the Regional Umpires' Commission. They shall submit details of their experience in the sport and their reasons for wishing to become an umpire.

There shall be a seminar in January at which the role of an umpire is made clear, and the training procedures are outlined.

Each candidate shall be interviewed to ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities and commitments during the training year.

After convincing themselves and the Commission that they are suitably committed to the training, the training will be modular and have three sections. Each section will be marked. The proportion of marks carried by each section will be.

Written exam on the Rules of racing. 40%

Practical exam (table top). 40%

Performance at training regattas. 20%

There will be a minimum mark for each section and a minimum aggregate mark.

2. Training

  • Written Examination - Late January / early February

    Candidates must display a thorough knowledge of the BR Rules of Racing and achieve a minimum score of 80%

    Those who achieve at least the minimum mark shall proceed to the next stage of training.

  • Practical Training at Events.

    It is mandatory to attend the minimum number of events.

    February / March: Two training HORR events. One large, one small.

    During the training at HORRs the candidate shall experience:

    • Marshalling
    • Observing

    April: Attendance one Umpire's Seminar. (strongly advised but not compulsory for the examination)

    May/June/July: A minimum of six training events. 

    At least one from each of the three main regatta types in our region

    -Tideway regattas

    -Upriver launch umpired regattas

    -Upriver bank umpired regattas

    . Ideally, we would advise getting as much experience of events as possible. Individual training plans will be overseen by a member of the TRUC Examination panel and each candidate will also be allocated a mentor from the membership of the TRUC, to advise where necessary.

    During the training at regattas candidates shall experience:

    • Accompanying an experienced umpire to observe, analyse and comment on the conduct of races and their outcomes.
    • Assisting an experienced umpire in starting.
    • Judging under the supervision of an experienced umpire.
    • Control Commission under the supervision of an experienced umpire.

3. Practical Exam.

July: Mock and practical exam (Table top)

September: Practical exam (Table Top)

The candidate shall demonstrate in launch and bank umpired regattas:

An appreciation of the primacy of the safety of competitors and all others in the vicinity of a regatta. An understanding of the practical and safety aspects of a course, and the requirements for an umpire to officiate effectively. An ability to marshal and handle crews of varying ages and experience. An ability to start a race, using the standard procedures. An ability to control a race, handling interference, fouls and appeals. An ability to declare an outcome in a variety of scenarios.

Those candidates who satisfy the examiners in all modules shall be deemed to have reached the standard required for a qualified umpire.

4. Practical Experience:

August - December. Those who have successfully completed the training will umpire at open events under the supervision of experienced umpires until their BR licence is issued by the National Umpires' Commission in January

Umpire Training

Training to be an Umpire

Your region needs you!

With the large number of Heads and Regattas in the area, it's obvious why the Thames Region is always looking for new umpires. Becoming an umpire is also a very good way for former competitors to remain involved in the sport.

Once you have the basic umpiring qualification then Multi-lane and even FISA (international) qualification is a possibility. Indeed, the Thames region can boast quite a few FISA umpires who have officiated at international regattas around the world, from the Coupe de la Jeunesse to the Olympic games.

What makes a good candidate?

It is preferable to have rowed, sculled or coxed to Umpire, but not necessarily at the highest level. All regatta and head-race organisers are recommended to obtain their Umpire's licence.

What does it entail?

Training for each year tends to start in January or early February and you could be a fully qualified Umpire before the end of the Regatta season. For 2017 candidates, a date of Monday 9th January at London RC was set for an initial meeting. This is where they could meet the TRUC training and examination panel and the programme for the year was explained.

A written paper will be sat in February/March. Successful candidates at this stage will then attend Head races and Regattas throughout the season.

Training is based on practical experience with final qualification based upon continuous assessment and a practical exam taken early Autumn.

For more info contact:  Roy Prosser at Thames (email address under TRUC Committee and below), Gary Painter or your local Umpire.

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Gary Painter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All candidates must have a sponsoring club, regatta, or Thames Region umpire.

How do I apply?

We can take up to ten candidates each year. Application forms are available from Roy Prosser:

35 Hillside Road, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 3JX
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View Notes for Potential Candidates here


TRRC History

Our TRRC History page covers the organisation of rowing in the Thames valley since the 1800s, how the TARC came into being and when it became the TRRC.

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TRRC Structure

Information on how the TRRC works, including our forward plan, Executive Committee members, and a who's-who in the current Sports Committee line-up.

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