Boat Race Officials

Boat Race Officials (BROs) are a vital part of Rowing ACT who volunteer their time to ensure that every regatta is fun, safe and run to a high standard.

The BROs are managed by Chief Boat Race Official Geoff Northam, and are supported by Host Club volunteers each regatta.


What does a BRO do?

There are a variety of roles BROs carry out during a regatta, some requiring specific skills and some not. The standard roles required for a Rowing ACT regatta are:

Referee: The head official for the regatta, the Referee oversees all aspects of the day’s racing.

Assistant Referee: Working out of the Race Control tent in Weston Park, the Assistant Referee carries out a range of tasks and ensures the regatta is running smoothly.

Judges: Situated at the Finish line where anticipation and excitement is high, Judges watch as boats cross the line and ensure that the correct finishing order is recorded. A fantastic role where you get to witness all the results first hand!

Starter: Positioned on a platform with great views of Black Mountain and the Governor General’s front garden, the Starter is responsible for aligning boats and getting each race underway to a fair and safe start.

Umpires: In the thick of the action, Umpires follow each race up the course ensuring that the boats stay in their respective lanes and are abiding by race rules. The best seat in the house!

Boat Drivers: A great role for anyone who enjoys driving a boat and being out on the lake, Boat Drivers drive a Rowing ACT tinnie up the course following each race with an Umpire on board.

Regatta Secretary: The Regatta Secretary is setup at the Finish Line along the Black Mountain peninsula, and manages timing, entries, substitutions and scratchings during the regatta.

Timing Official: The Timing Official is part of the Race Administration team that works in front of the Finish line. They manage all aspects of the timing system, and get an unbeatable view of each race.

Finish Recorder: Setup at the Finish line along Black Mountain, the Recorder snaps a photo of each boat as it passes the Finish line. This is the place to be if you enjoy watching great finishes!


Why be a BRO?

BROs are among the most valued people in the Rowing ACT community. Without their dedication and support, there would be no rowing in the ACT. It’s a great way to give back to the sport while increasing your own involvement.

During a regatta, our BROs are kitted out in Rowing ACT uniforms and provided with coffees, lunch, snacks and drinks. Following pack-down of a regatta, BROs are invited to come and enjoy some refreshments on Rowing ACT in Weston Park and relax after the day’s work.

Each BRO role is carried out with a money-can’t-buy view of ACT regattas. Whether its at the Start, following races up the course or overlooking the Finish line our BROs get the best seat in the house.

The BRO group are a great bunch of people and come from all walks of life. Being a BRO is a great way to meet new people and interact with others in the rowing community. Rowing ACT holds social events during the season for BROs and their partners as a way to show appreciation for their tireless work.


BRO Training

Rowing ACT run free BRO Training Days before and during each season. At the Training Day BROs are taught the varying roles and the skills required to carry out their tasks successfully.

The next BRO Training Day is: TBA

For BROs who want to officiate at a higher level, National Official Accreditation Scheme courses are available. Please contact the RACT Executive Officer if you’re interested.

BRO roles that drive boats require a tinnie license. Rowing ACT will reimburse tinnie license fees at the conclusion of each season.


Want to be a BRO?

Fantastic! We are always in need of new BROs. The next step is to notify the RACT EO of your interest by emailing We will be in touch with you shortly after that and look forward to you joining our valued group of BROs.






Rowing, like most sports, is built around volunteers.  Rowing ACT has one full-time employee but an enormous amount of work, both skilled and unskilled, is delivered by volunteers who come from all walks of life.

The Board of Rowing ACT is made up of unpaid Directors who, over time, have comprised people of many trades and professions.

Regattas are the core business of Rowing ACT.  They are managed by Boat Race Officials (BROs) who operate under National and Rowing ACT guidelines.   The BROs not only dedicate their time to the sport but bring their own complex blend of skills which has led to significant innovation around the timing, reporting and management of races.

The BROs are managed by the Chief Boat Race Official, Geoff Northam.  The BROs are in turn supported by volunteers on the day.


BROs in boat managing rowers

How many BROs are there?

The number of BROs varies over time but currently there are nearly 30, not all of whom may be available for a particular regatta.  We currently have 22 men and 8 women.

How many officials are required to run a regatta?

A minimum of 24 officials, including 6 mandated club volunteers, are required for a regatta.



Crews being aligned by the BROs from the starting platform

What Qualifications do BROs have?

All officials driving boats must have a Boat Licence.

Many BROs have had a long association with the sport and consequently are highly skilled in the running of regattas.  There are two BROs who have attained International (FISA) qualifications; five with National Level 3 accreditation; twelve BROs with Level 2 accreditation ; and 17 have Level 1 accreditation.

Club volunteers assisting with BRO duties are not required to have any specific qualifications unless they are driving a tinnie where they must have a Boat Licence.

What do the BROs and officials do?

The following positions comprise the normal regatta:-

  • Referee;
  • 2 boat start Aligners with 2 club volunteer assistants;
  • 5 launch drivers;
  • 5 Umpires;
  • 2 Finish Judges including a club volunteer;
  • 3 Recorders/Timing operators including a Club volunteer;
  • Start Marshal;
  • 2 Cross-over Marshals who are club volunteers; and
  • Pontoon Marshal.

What do volunteers need to bring?

Hats should always be worn.  Clothing will depend on the time of year but it is important to remember conditions can change significantly, even on the same day, so come prepared.

Sunscreen is available.  In addition, for those working over lunch, a light lunch is provided.  It is a good idea to bring your own water although water is available at the sites.

What role do club volunteers have on the day?

The roles of the volunteers are as follows.

  • Two aligner assistants who are stationed on the floating start platforms. They convey the printed regatta program and help to identify crews whilst a BRO operates the platform’s PA system (regatta program supplied).
  • A Finish Judge is stationed at the finish line shed.  The Finish Judge identifies the bow numbers of crews crossing the line and conveys this information to the BROs and club volunteers operating the regatta recording system.
  • A recorder/timing operator is stationed at the finish line shed and assists with the operation of the regatta recording system. The BROs will brief operators on the workings of the system prior to the start of the regatta.
  • Two cross-over marshals  who are responsible for keeping separation between crews competing in a race and those entering the course to compete.  They are positioned around the 1500 metre mark.

Other volunteers may be called upon, particularly for longer regattas.  This is managed through the Clubs.

What time will I be required to attend the venue as a volunteer?

Generally around 7 am but as otherwise advised.  The BROs meet earlier and will have completed some set up. While the regattas themselves start at 7.30 am, volunteers need to be there beforehand to receive some instruction and to be in place for the first race in the program.

Where do I report as a volunteer at a regatta?

Recorders and Finish judges go to the finish line next to Acacia Bay.  All other volunteers should report to the  RACT hub tent in Weston Park.

Start of course - acacia inlet

Finish line shed off Lady Denman Drive



BROs at finish line


Main regatta tent

Main RACT tent is located in this area


Edwin and Michael at the hub in Weston Park

Edwin, an experienced BRO, and Michael, our Admin Officer, at the hub in Weston Park

Would you like to become a BRO?

Many BROs find the work very satisfying and a good number have continued the role even though the original reason for joining, such as one of their children rowing, has long gone.   Their is a good sense of camaraderie.  There is the opportunity to be formally skilled over time.

If you are interested in becoming a BRO, or wish to volunteer to assist the BROs, please contact our Admin Officer.