Para-Rowing in NSW and Australia

Para-Rowing provides opportunities for a wide range of athletes with physical and intellectual impairments to compete in an inclusive environment. In Australia, there are three classifications for para-rowing. These classifications closely match the international para-rowing classifications.

The sport can cater for athletes with a variety of impairments.

Para-Rowing is integrated into the main rowing program in Australia and internationally. It was introduced as a Paralympic sport at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and therefore provides athletes with the opportunity to achieve at the highest level. Australia has a good record in Para-Rowing, winning numerous medals since the sport was introduced to the World Rowing Championships in 2002.

Rowing Australia has entered into an agreement with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) to establish and develop a Paralympic Preparation Program (PPP). Rowing Australia’s PPP is managed through the Para-Rowing High Performance Plan with the establishment of structured programs and selection requirements to optimise Australia’s opportunity to win medals at the Paralympic Games.


Arms and Shoulders (AS)

Arms and shoulders para-rowers are athletes who have no or minimal trunk functionl. AS rowers apply force predominantly using the arms and/or shoulders. AS rowers use pontoons fixed to the riggers to aid stability. The fixed seat will have a backrest allowing the rower to be strapped into the boat.

Trunk and Arms (TA)

Trunk and Arms para-rowers are athlete who have trunk movement but are unable to use the sliding seat because of significantly weakened or restricted function of the lower limbs. TA rowers can use stabilising pontoons to row if they prefer. A backrest on the fixed seat is optional.

Leg, Trunk and Arms (LTA)

Leg, Trunk and Arms para-rowers include athletes with impairments who are able to use the sliding seat as well as their trunk and arms. Athletes with vision impairments, or with an intellectual impairment will usually be classified as LTA rowers. Many athletes with an amputation will also row in this classification.

Intellectual Impairment (II)

Intellectual Impairment para-rowers include athletes with an IQ of 70 or less and with significant limitations in adaptive behaviour expressed in conceptial, social and practical adaptive skills. II athletes are currently not eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games, however can compete internationally in a mixed coxed four.

A list of current classifications for adaptive rowing that can be checked to see whether an athlete is classified is available on the RA website.

Australian Paralympic Committee Classification Information Sheet for Rowing


Racing and Regattas

For racing at club regattas and state championships in NSW, no formal classification is required.  For racing at the National Championships, para-rowers need a formal classification conducted by Rowing Australia. Athletes who think they are eligible to row as para-rowers should contact both Alan Bennett and Tara Huntly (contact details below) before entering para-rowing races for the first time. This will ensure the athlete is likely to obtain a classification for para-rowing and that the boat race officials are aware of any special arrangements that might need to be made for the race.

Para-rowing events are included at most age/open regattas and most grade regattas in NSW. They are also held at Championship regattas. Para-rowing races are held in single and double sculls. Para-rowers can enter para-rowing double sculls with another para-rower of either gender or with an able bodied rower of any age and either gender. At National Championships para-rowing double scull races must be raced by two para-rowers of the opposite gender.

When entering para-rowing single scull races, the rower should nominate their classification and the distance they prefer to race (either 500m or 1000m). Where there are sufficient entries, LTA entrants will race in a separate division to the TA and A rowers.

Para-Rowing provides athletes with a physical or intellectual impairment the opportunity to be active on the water, get involved in a fun and friendly club environment, and participate in a variety of competitions from club regattas through state and national championships to world championships and Paralympic games.


A list of equipment that can be sought in Australia suitable for para-rowing is available on the RA website.

Key contacts

Tara Huntly
Rowing Australia / National Rowing Centre of Excellence
02 6214 7518

Alan Bennett
Sport Development Officer
Rowing NSW
02 9555 6111