Image: British Rowing
Home Countries is a historic annual regatta held between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Since 1965, the event has been held on stretches of water running 1500-2000 meters long in each of the nations: Nottingham in England, Strathclyde in Scotland, Cardiff Bay in Wales and Inniscara in Ireland. The level of competition has developed over the years, reflecting the increase in participation and posing a greater emphasis on the sport.
In 2020, there will be an exciting change to Home Countries, with the changes being announced on Monday 16th December 2019. The changes will ensure that the event continues to be a valued team event for athletes across the nations. The new race programme will see each team size reduce by approximately 25%, which will improve the competition for places on the team, ensuring the best rowers get to represent their country. Each new team will get the opportunity to race in different boat classes across multiple race distances, with the introduction of a new sprint format for quads and eights. This follows the cancellation of the Power 8 sprints this year after it was introduced back in 2018 with the hopes of making rowing a more accessible sport to spectators.
Additionally, in order to enhance Para Rowing within the event, Home International Regatta will work more closely with the nations early in the season to identify and support prospective Para Rowers, with the aim of delivering top-quality racing opportunities for everyone.
Lee Boucher, a representative of the Home International Regatta GMC, says:
“The Home International Regatta has played a vital role in the development of emerging rowers over the years and is seen as a first stepping stone for many into international competition. Central to the ethos of the event is the team-based element, where every race counts, and we are delighted that whilst announcing these innovative changes we have been able to protect the integrity of the competition.”
All athletes selected in the new team format will represent their country at the regatta in a minimum of two races, so the majority of the team will race three times over the new 500 meter course as well as the standard 2000 meters.
In order for the team sizes to reduce by about 25%, there has been difficult decisions in reducing the number of lightweight seats available to each team. However, the decision has been made following a review of the drop in numbers of lightweight rowers trialling and competing for each nation. With only one lightweight event featuring in the racing programme at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics- the lightweight double sculls- there is some doubt that lightweight rowing will remain a part of the Paris 2024 games and beyond.
All of these exciting and new changes will be implemented at the 2020 Home International Regatta, which will be hosted by Wales at Strathclyde Park on Saturday 25th July 2020.
44 races in total (34 over 2000 meters, 10 over 500 meters)
Up to 62 athletes per team (down from 80 in previous years)
Each team member must compete in a minimum of two races
Equal number of male and female athletes in each team