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Surfboat Rowing

Surfboat rowing is a type of coastal rowing in which a team of rowers compete using surfboats, which are oar-driven boats that are designed to be used in the ocean under severe wave conditions.

Surfboats are primarily used for lifesaving or rescue missions in beaches, and competitions revolve around mimicking lifesaving tasks. Surfboat rowing is a difficult sport that requires extreme strength and endurance.   

The course used for surfboat rowing races are about 400m in length, circular in shape with floating buoys.

surf boat rowing at Coolangatta surf boat rowing at Coolangatta (1933)

At the start of the race, all crew members of each boat stand close to their boats holding its hull in knee-deep water. All the boats are positioned about 23m apart from each other.

The race begins with a starting signal, after which the crew members push their boats for a short distance to gain momentum and the jump on to it and start rowing.

The boat that first crosses the designated flags from the seaward side is declared the winner.

Surf boat rowing is extremely popular in Australia and New Zealand. Surfboat rowing competitions are conducted as a major part of Surf Lifesaving competitions.

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