The Great Coal Row

Row, row, row your boat

The Sunday row will be from Coalporters, past Ocean Village, along Weston Shore and to the River Hamble, stopping for lunch and then rowing back to Coalporters.

When you feel like you can no longer row with your legs, start rowing with your heart.


The Great Coal Row!

Great Coal Row Risk Assessment

Great Coal Row Safety Plan 


The Great Coal Row is a three day event for recreational rowing on the Solent, Southampton Water. The event will be organised by Coalporters Amateur Rowing Association (Coalporters) in partnership with Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC) and supported by the British Rowing Recreational Committee, British Rowing East Midlands Region, Wessex ARA and Hants and Dorset ARA.

Southampton enjoys a rich heritage of water activity, and many working people worked as rowers, taking time out to race and enjoy themselves after a hard day out on the water. Many of the clubs that exist today are based on those

working rowers – Coalporters, Vosper Thorneycroft, Harland & Wolff. Races were frequent, both between the clubs, at Regattas and the occasional invitation to those softies from the Thames. Thousands would gather to watch, and betting was fierce with crowds eying up the rowers to measure muscles, height, estimate their strength and of course how soft their hands were! To this day the boats rowed around Southampton are slightly shorter because they had to fit on the railway carriages to be transported to different locations!

This event is to celebrate rowing as the sport of working people, and to re-create the routes taken along and around Southampton Waters and it’s Rivers Test, Itchen and Hamble.

Event format

SWAC together with Coalporters, will plan a number of alternative rows around Southampton Water so that rowing can be undertaken on all days should weather conditions be challenging.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

The History of Working and Racing Rowers on Southampton waters Exhibition of rowing in different clubs by working rowers in Southampton and open day at Coalporters 10am to 4pm for general public.

Friday 26 May 2017

6pm BBQ at Coalporters, Safety Briefing followed by party night at 7.30pm to prepare for a row the next day!


Saturday 27 May 2017

The Parade of Sail will take place on the River Test, past the cruise ships.

Rowing boats (coxed fours) will row the River Itchen to Woodmill for a picnic lunch rowing back past Ocean Village and out into the River to join the Parade of sail boats as part of the Great Coal Row (28 km).

The rowing boats will return to Coalporters for overnight storage.


Sunday 28 May 2017

The Sail Race is taking place up Southampton Water up past Nab Tower. Rowing boats will row out on past Ocean Village, up on the inside of Weston Shore and then turning to row up the Hamble. Boats will stop for a picnic lunch and then row back joining the sailing boats as they return to the finish as part of the Great Coal Row (38km). Local boats may join along the way at appropriate locations!


Monday 29 May 2017

There will be a dry land parade around the City. Coalporters will enter a float with a couple of rowing ergometers for members to ‘ row’ their way round, and everyone is welcome to join them to walk or to row on ergometers, or to enter their own float. Coalporters members will hand out leaflets advertising the club and dates for taster sessions in the following two weeks to promote rowing in the City.


Who is this for?

The Great Coal Rowing event is for recreational rowers, who would not normally take part in race events, but who enjoy the challenge of exploring new waters and are prepared to row some distances. All crews are welcome however, but there will be no racing! We also welcome crews for galleys, skiffs, cutters and other rowing boats from Southampton and local clubs as well all other parts of the country. The event is moderately physically challenging, and crews will be encouraged to train for the event. The greatest challenge will be rowing in tidal water in various weather conditions.

Craft allowed

The boats in use will be a mixture of touring or coastal-going rowing boats with either fixed or sliding seats and all coxed. These rowing boats are much wider and more robust than ‘fine’ racing boats with the shape and design better for dealing with waves and manoeuvrability in rougher water. The design greatly reduces the likelihood of capsizing or sinking. No fine racing shells or coxless boats will be allowed to enter the event. Crews may swop at appropriate locations. It is recommended an experienced cox takes charge for the entrance to the Hamble!


The minimum age of entry will be 16 years of age at date of the Event. All participants must be a member of one of the following: British Rowing (minimum Silver membership), Hants & Dorset ARA, Wessex ARA, Scottish Rowing member, row for a club appropriately affiliated to a governing body or registered with a Sea Cadet unit and thus covered by collective third party liability insurance to the value of at least £2m or provide proof of such insurance on a club, crew or individual basis.

All crew must be able to swim a minimum of 100m in light clothing or notify the organisers if otherwise (in which case they may be asked to wear a pfd). All crew must declare all known medical conditions that may affect their ability to participate in the Great Coal Row.

Team entries must provide details of all team members.


All safety plans and risk assessments will be undertaken by SWAC together with Coalporters ARC, who will provide safety cover for each row. There will be a minimum qualified first aider in the lead safety boat. SWAC and the event organisers will liaise with the relevant port authorities to ensure safety when rowing in commercial shipping areas. This event will be organised in compliance with British Rowing’s RowSafe guidance. As a condition of entry, all participants will be expected to be familiar with RowSafe and abide by all its recommendations. All coxswains must wear a life jacket or PFD at all times on the water.

Boating will take place from Coalporters. Secure parking will be arranged for trailers and overnight storage.

We will be creating our own website, but in the meantime please contact the Event Organiser Anne Hock 07764 194176




Newsletter signup

Sign up now to receive exclusive Southampton Sailing Week offers pre-race.



We are here to help….if you have a query or need more information on Southampton Sailing week please contact us using the form below. We will be in touch as soon as we can.