Coastal Rowing

Looking for classes, racing, and opportunities to try coastal rowing at BIAC?

Check out Open Water Rowing under Classes

The New Big Thing is Here

Coastal rowing is gathering speed internationally and BIAC is ahead of the pack in the United States. We are one of the few clubs to own coastal boats, with more on the way.


What is Coastal Rowing?

Sculling, endurance, currents, waves, tide, wind, and teamwork – that’s coastal rowing!

Coastal rowing is a growing sport in the USA, and very popular in Europe and Asia, where seafaring work heritages evolved into a competitive, adventurous sport. The “mountain biking” of rowing, coastal rowing requires a dash of seamanship in addition to rowing skills and fitness. Coastal rowers navigate tides and currents, read the water, and surf the waves. It can be a relaxing exploration of waterways or intense international racing.

While coastal and open water are often used interchangeably, open water is the broader category. It involves rowing heavy, seaworthy boats on challenging water, be it a coastline or large lake. 

Coastal boats meet specific criteria set by FISA, the international governing body for competitive rowing. For example, many open water boats (such as Maas Aeros) have a self-bailer in the foot compartment, or are traditional wooden boats large and heavy enough to prevent swamping (filling with water) even in rough water conditions. FISA-certified coastal boats MUST have an open stern transom to automatically fully drain the boat. 

Open water races accept competitors in a variety of traditional wooden and newer fiberglass and carbon boats, and are often long distance – 10Km to marathon length. 

Coastal races are usually shorter, either 4Km or 6Km, on courses with several sharp buoy turns, or even very short sprints from the beach around a nearby buoy. In the San Francisco Bay area, most open water races include events for coastal-class boats, as well as lighter boats.

Coastal rowing allows rowers to adapt to all sorts of water conditions. And coastal racing is exciting, particularly in the San Francisco Bay, where we have extreme tidal flows, irregular coastlines, lots of boat traffic, and beautiful scenery. 

BIAC sent three boats to the FISA World Coastal Championships in 2018 in British Columbia and multiple crews to the 2019 World Coastal Championships in Hong Kong. We also participated in numerous 2019 local coastal races, in addition to hosting the SF Bay Coastal Classic, October 5, 2019 in Aquatic Park, San Francisco. All fall coastal regattas in 2020 have been rescheduled to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Learn More

World Rowing has some good resources on coastal rowing, boat types, and events.

Also, check out these pages on our website: 

If you have time, check out this webinar on Coastal Rowing hosted by USRowing at the National Convention and featuring BIAC coaches and rowers. They cover a lot of ground on the world of coastal rowing.

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