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Welcome to Racing Ladders

Throw down a challenge! Take part, have fun.

You know how when you paddle up alongside another crew, everyone gets a bit competitive? Well now you can throw down a challenge. We plan to list every crew in the country in a series of ladders, and if you are within ten places of another crew, you can challenge them to a race. Chances are it's the same boat category as yours, but with all crews just finding their level over time, it might not be! Everyone's in it together: clubs, schools, men, women, girls, boys, eights, fours, quads, pairs, doubles and sculls. You might be 30th in the ladder, but the leading quad. You might be in a school crew and be in a position to challenge a masters VIII.  

 

All you have to do is agree a distance or time, and any other rules you please (like whether it's a standing or rolling start). Then, when you've raced, report the result on this website (from your phone). If both crews report the same result, the ladder will update. If the lower crew wins, it jumps above the losing crew, which moves down a place. All the crews between them move down a place too, but all the crews that were below the lower crew in the first place stay where they are. 

If it catches on, we will introduce monthly prizes - for crews that have gained the most places, and for clubs that have gained the most places on aggregate. The whole thing is designed to be fun, and add a new dimension to being out on the water. It's a bit like bumps races, without the carnage. 

We have done our best to list as many crews as we can, going on the basis of published Head results. If you are in wildly the wrong place, you will soon get to the right level. If you have been left off, let us know and we will add you. And if you want to form a crew with friends and join the ladder, just tell us and we will include you.​ We reserve the right to adjust the position of a crew that is obviously out of place (so if you form a scratch crew of former Olympians, you can't come in at the bottom and bump your way up through the field while winning all the prizes on the way!)

Learn more below about how it works, and what to do next.  We hope you love it, and have fun!

What's it all about?

What's it all about though?

Ladder Racing is simple, and has simple aims: first, to make being out on the water more meaningful than just training (particularly in the post-COVID absence of Head Races and regattas); second, to give a wider context to existing private matches (enabling flexible racing that you are in control of all year round); and third and most importantly, to see people having fun. 

The thing about a ladder is that anyone can take part at any level - but equally if you don't want to, you don't have to. It's not a league, where everyone has to have the same number of races. You can race once a day, once a week, once a year - or not at all: you will move up and down the ladder as crews race around you, and you can quickly find a level where the crews around you are your sort of pace. If they aren't, you'll beat them and move up, or get beaten by them and move down. A club crew which decides it doesn't want to be involved this year will slip down the ladder as stuff happens around it, and its successor another season can simply decide to take part and challenge its way back up. Equally, it means that boats of all categories and all standards can race each other - a quick coxless four can beat a slow eight, and a nippy sculler can take on a weaker pair - and recreational rowers can have the fun of meaningful competition, if they want it, with other recreational rowers. You're in control of what you do.

The rules (outlined below) are simple, and anyone can take part. If you are an established crew from an established club, you should already be on the ladder and can start straight away, challenging any crew within ten places of you to a race on terms that you agree between you. If you aren't on it and you would like to be - even if that means getting together with some old mates and borrowing a boat - then just get in touch and we can add you to the ladder in your region. 

Our hope at the start is that people just have fun with crews that are geographically near them on the river, and then in due course that clubs from the same region but slightly further apart invite other clubs over to have some impromptu, informal fun - but with as much competitive edge as they want (and perhaps an evening barbecue in the summer after the racing). When we are back having regattas and head races, you could even incorporate your performances at them into the ladder if you agree with crews you will be racing (ahead of your race) that your result in the regatta should also be a ladder result. Doing so would link the outcomes of different events in the racing calendar to your overall engagement in the sport - but whether you do that is entirely up to you.

You don't need any infrastructure - any set start or finish line, an umpire, or any marshalls. All you need, other than a boat, a desire to take part, and agreement with the boat you challenge (about the terms and the result), is for every person in your boat to be insured. The best and easiest way to do that is to be a member of British Rowing, because insurance is included in the BR racing package. It is your responsibility to ensure that you do this, either through your club or as an individual.

 

After that, it's up to you how much you do. You'll soon find a level that works, so whether you are on the water six times a week or six times a year, and whether you have time to train every day or just occasionally, you'll be able to have a bit of fun sparring with other people who are metaphorically in the same boat - but literally in another one!

The Rules

(they're very simple!)

1. Agree your race

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If a crew is within ten places of you on the ladder, you can challenge them to a race. It can be any distance or any time - you just need to agree it. Maybe a minute. Maybe three. Maybe a distance. Just agree it!

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2. Go for it

Race as agreed !

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3. Report the result

Whoever has the log in for your crew simply reports the result. If both crews report the same result, the table updates. If the higher crew before the race was beaten, then the challenging crew jumps above them in the ladder. If it won, then nothing changes. 

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4. Challenge back?

Nursing your wounds? You can always race again. Maybe they beat you over a minute because they're quick starters, but you think you'd row through them over 3 minutes. Challenge them back!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Any crew can be added to the ladder in any region. If you have a IV or a pair, or even if you're a sculler, let us know and we can add you.  For the moment, we have made a few best guesses, talked to a few people, and put in a lot of placeholders for crews based on past Head entries. If we've got your club wrong, let us know and we can take crews out or add them in. 

One person in each crew needs to create a log in, in order to 'own' that crew.  That log in is then used to report a result, and as soon as the same result is reported by two crews that raced, the ladder will automatically update. 

We plan to track movements on the ladder in order to gives prizes for highest climbers and most races, as well as overall club performance averaged out by number of crews, to create monthly league tables for clubs. This means that a less fashionable club's 4th crew could help their club to a monthly league prize over the first crew of the biggest clubs in the country, by climbing the ladder.

 

If it proves popular, we will in due course add a forum so that commensurate bragging rights can be claimed and used! We also plan to introduce prizes every month. To start, though, we are just launching it in its simplest format: challenge a crew, race them over any agreed distance or time, and report the result.  And most of all - have fun!

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What next? How do you get involved?

To get started, we need your help. We have done our best to list all clubs, but we don't know what crews each club has. We have made some guesses, but there will be lots of mistakes, with crews needing to be added and others in certain boat classes taken out or have their names or boat class changed.  In many cases, we just have placeholders for clubs and crews -  ABC Club 1, ABC Club 2 - and we need you to tell us what they should be. You can see that in some cases we have more detail around the club than in others. This is just a function of us having talked to people in advance of you seeing the site, who have already gone through the process of letting us know what their club has.

If you are on your club's committee, or in charge of rowing at your school or university, you can make our lives easy by sending us the crews you are forming this year. We will put them all on the ladder. All crews already listed can change names, so if we have your club down as having a 4- and actually it has two quads, then we can change one and add the other.  If you have a men's and a women's 8+ and nothing else, that's fine. If you have 10 doubles, that's fine too. It will take a week or two to settle down, and even then not all your clubs will be in the right starting order. But that will sort itself out as challenges are made. 

Equally, if  you want to form a scratch crew with some friends and can borrow the equipment to get out on the water, we can add you to the ladder. Just get in touch.

Once your crew is listed, one person needs to log in and 'claim' it, so that you can submit results. Perhaps your cox or coach, or just a member of the crew.  Report a result by clicking the button and stating who you raced and what happened. If two crews report the same result, the ladder will update.

Don't be concerned with your starting point, or shout at us because one crew is way above or below another and shouldn't be. We've just thrown everyone in as best we can, knowing that all crews taking part will quickly find their level, whether they get together six times a week or once a month. If you're starting too high, you'll drop down gradually as crews jump above you; and if you're too low, you can climb by challenging up. So just move up and down the ladder, and wait to hear about monthly prizes that will give your challenges an added meaning! 

Anyone can take part, providing you're insured - which you can do quickly and easily just by taking out racing membership with British Rowing. After that, throw a crew together with mates, row recreationally and socially, and enjoy what you're doing.  Rowing's a great community to be part of, and our hope is that this enhances it.

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What's coming?

We have launched this site with the basics - a ladder in each region. Our first objective is to get all crews onto it and to have everyone enjoying it. It has been impossible to test things as much as we would like so please bear with the site as we iron out a few inevitable bugs. We know of some, which we are sorting as quickly as possible, but let us know what errors you come across so that we can get it all right by the end of the first week.

If the concept takes off in the ay we hope, we will look to add further functionality to the site, allowing you to fill in more background information about your crew if you wish to so that people can see who they are racing, producing a page which lists all the results so that you can see who has been taking on who (like the old Grandstand vidi-printer, if you're old enough to remember it...), and perhaps the functionality to allow you to message crews on the site and schedule a time to meet and race.  We can also add further ladders, including (if there is interest) an ergo ladder, so that people can race at scheduled times over Zoom Ergos, and climb up that ladder in turn. 

In short, there are lots of possibilities to enhance what we all love doing, if people want to get involved. So go and claim your crew, and have a bit of fun. 

GET AHEAD WITH EMAIL UPDATES

We don't plan to send a lot of emails - the site should run itself - but if you submit your email, we will include you in anything we send out with information relating to the site. 

Thanks for submitting!

DISCLAIMER

Racing Ladders are a fun, community project aimed at enhancing people's enjoyment of the sport of rowing by offering a framework that makes competitive challenges between boats of all types meaningful in a wider context. Every effort has been made to be accurate about clubs, crews, locations and even regions, but there may be errors and we will gladly correct them if notified accordingly.  ​No-one is obliged to take part and if you don't want to accept a challenge you don't have to. If you want your club to be removed from the ladder, you only have to ask.

Anyone who takes part in a challenge against another crew needs to do so safely, and be insured. Our recommendation that this is easily obtained through British Rowing membership assumes that everyone taking part will therefore act on that recommendation. No liability is accepted if anyone is then stupid enough to race without insurance. British Rowing racing membership runs at around £5 a month and is cheap at the price. Similarly, this is not an invitation to race where it would be inappropriate to race. If your section of river is too narrow or too crowded for two boats to race safely side by side without impeding other river users, then you being on a ladder is not an invitation to flout that fact. We don't know every piece of water in the country and we have put all crews up so that they have the opportunity to make the system work for them if circumstances permit. For example, if your water or your neighbouring crews or anything else local to your area mean that side-by-side racing cannot work for you, then agree a time-trial format for your challenges. In short, don't do anything unsafe or that puts anyone at risk. 

All results are dependent on the goodwill of both parties, and in the event that those parties do not agree on the outcome, Racing Ladders will not act as an arbitrator: the result will simply not stand, and the crews will have to find alternative ways to make progress up the ladder. 

No guarantee is given with regard to monthly prizes, although the stated objective is to introduce them and to report winners on pages on the site in the future. In the event that a forum is added, no liability is accepted for any offence that a posting may cause to anyone, although Racing Ladders reserves the right to take down any posting, as it does to ban people, crews, and clubs from the site at its discretion. The aim is to have to do none of that, because the site is here for people to have fun. Please don't abuse it and act like an idiot. It's a community offering in a wonderful sport, designed to enhance existing opportunities and to offer something to those who would love to get involved but who tend to retire early (or never take the sport up) because of its traditionally 'all or nothing' nature, while adding an additional dimension for those who do a lot already. 

Every effort will be made to respond quickly to correspondence and problems, but no guarantee is given in this regard. Neither is any given about the stability of the site, the server for which is provided by a third party. In the event of a site problem, every effort will be made to rectify it as soon as possible.