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.


PR1 (Arms and Shoulders)
Athletes row with their arms and shoulders only. Athletes use strapping around their mid section to provide support and stability in the boat.

  • Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke who may use a wheelchair or walking aid
  • Loss of muscle strength eq

PR2 (Trunk and Arms)
Rowers who have trunk and arm movement, who are unable to use their legs to propel the sliding seat.

  • Limb loss or deficiency equivalent to a double above leg amputation
  • Significant muscle strength loss in both legs equivalent to complete spinal cord injury at L3 level or incomplete lesion at L1
  • Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke which affects both legs or one side of the body

PR3 (Legs Trunk Arms)
Rowers who have the use of their legs, trunk and arms, who can utilize the sliding seat. Rowers may have a physical or visual impairment. Rowers with a vision impairment wear a blindfold during competition.

  • Limb loss or deficiency, at least full loss of three fingers on one hand, or at least a tarsal metatarsal amputation of the foot,
  • Loss of muscle strength eg equivalent to incomplete spinal cord injury at S1
  • Minimal ataxia, athetosis, hypertonia. Eg Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, stroke or MS


ID (Intellectual Impairment)
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.


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 Chad King (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

Chad King
Head Coach - Para-Rowing
Rowing Australia

Sport Development Officer
Rowing NSW
02 9555 6111

NSW Athlete Erik Horrie winning silver at the Rio Paralympics