As Jay Feenan and some others have hinted, the issue of
weigh-in procedures for lightweights continued to be a topic on
concern at this year's Nationals. (Translation: the referees
assigned to the Control Commission were under seige.)
A bit of history. Until a few years ago, both FISA and
USRowing in their written rules provided that a lightweight must
weigh in between one to two hours before **EACH RACE**. What the
written rules provided and what was enforced in practice,
unfortunately, were not necessarily the same thing. Indeed, the
practice of "one weigh-in per day" cropped up despite the rules.
(It is common in collegiate rowing to weigh-in the night before).
Then FISA changed their rule to require a weigh-in only
before the "first heat" on each day of racing. (The term "heat"
is generic and refers to repechages, semifinals, etc.)
Of course, multiple races in the same event on the same
day do not occur (barring some unusual circumstance) at FISA
World Championships, although they could occur at other interna-
tional regattas conducted under FISA rules. Doubling up on
events is rare at FISA events as well. So last year USRowing had
to figure out what this change should mean to us domestically.
What we came up with was the following. If heats are
held in the morning and repechages occur in the afternoon, then
there is no unfairness in dispensing with the second weigh-in,
since all rowers are in the same boat (so to speak). (The same
applies to morning semifinals and afternoon finals). Therefore,
the rule was changed to require a weigh-in before the first race
in **each event**.
However, it was thought to be unfair to allow a com-
petitor in an earlier event to use the prior weigh-in for a later
event (e.g. a single sculler who later rows in the double). This
would give an unfair advantage to those who rowed in an early
event when compared with others who had to weigh-in 1 to 2 hours
before the later event and had less time to rehydrate, etc.
This change (which was a RELAXATION of the previous
rule), was done after consultation with the appropriate
So there's the current rule. Strangely enough, at the
first LWT 1X national team trials this month, we received a
protest from a coach who wanted us to go back to the old rule of
weigh-ins before every race. This past weekend in Indy, however,
there was considerable support for weighing in only once a day.
When faced with a no win situation, the Chief Referee did what I
think he had to do, which is go with the rule as written in the
book, of which everyone presumably has notice.
It is possible that the FISA rule, even after it was
relaxed, is not practical for USRowing Nationals, given the
greater frequency of entries in multiple events. IF the rule is
changed, however, it would have to take into account the fairness
issue. I am therefore interested in reactions and opinions to
the following proposal:
Lightweights shall weigh-in once a day. Any lightweight
rower may weigh-in beginning two hours before the first race
of any lightweight event held on that day, regardless of
whether the competitor is entered in that event. A
lightweight must weigh-in no later than one hour before the
first lightweight race in which he or she actually competes.
The purpose of this is to create a "one weigh-in per day rule,"
while at the same time preserving fairness. Any rower entered in
an event in which heats begin in late morning could weigh-in at
the same time as a rower entered in an early moring event, and
everyone would have the same time to rehydrate.
This rule has disadvantages, including practical con-
siderations of preventing a stampede at the scales at 5:30 AM.
Perhaps this rule also creates a slight disadvantage to those who
enter multiple events, but after all, it is their choice to do
so. There is no rule that is perfect. I am interested in what
lightweight competitors think is the best approximation to a fair
So for now (including the American Rowing Championships
in Topeka next month) the rule stays. At the Worlds in Septem-
ber, the one to two hour rule before the first race will also be
And for those who want to change the rule, you know my e-
USRowing Judge-Referee Committee
Rules of Rowing Editor
Ass't Professor of Law Rutgers Law School, 15 Washington St.
(201) 648-5160 Newark, NJ 07102