We believe that as much freedom as possible should be given to the clubs when holding race events – this allows for variety and excitement at regattas. The onus should be on the coxswains to avoid any clashes or damage to the boats and crews. To this end, CFOGA does NOT insist that umpires call out who has water when approaching any turns in the course (though if a host club wishes to do this, it is also acceptable). In any case, all coxswains must abide by the simple rule that if they steer into another boat, it is their fault!

How a host club decides on its racecourses is up to them – as long as all racing is carried out in a fair and safe manner. Please feel free to contact us for advice on any aspect of four-oared gig racing or events.


  • Under 16 Races: girls, boys, mixed (two girls, two boys)

  • Open Races: men, women, mixed (two men, two women)

  • Vets Races (40+): men, women, mixed (two men, two women)

  • Supervets (50+): men, women, mixed (two men, two women)

CFOGA Racing Rules

  1. Gigs are to complete a race with the same crew members as they start with. A crew consists of four rowers and one coxswain.
  2. The only forms of communication during races are VHF radios and voice. No cox boxes or voice-enhancing systems are allowed.
  3. A crew may be disqualified for failing to obey the umpire’s instructions.
  4. A crew may be disqualified for any unsporting behaviour (see Code of Conduct).
  5. Any umpire has the right to order a gig to withdraw from a race at any time. This right should be exercised in the event of poor seamanship or for safety reasons.
  6. The decision of the umpires on the day will be FINAL.
  7. The action of any coxswain deemed unsafe or unsporting will be reported to the CFOGA committee for disciplinary action if appropriate. The Umpire Rep will monitor coxswains via a yellow and red card system as noted in an umpire book. (See Umpires Code of Conduct)
  8. One nominated person from a crew is to speak to race stewards regarding any racing incident. Race Stewards will speak to this one member of the crew only, regarding any race incidents and umpires’ decisions.
  9. Safe handling of the boat and crew is of the utmost importance at all times. Coxswains should always endeavour to avoid collisions. They should anticipate situations, take avoiding action and instruct their crew to stop rowing or hold water if necessary.
  10. In the event of an accident, it is the duty of the umpires and any competitors to abandon the race and provide all possible assistance.
  11. In the event of some unforeseen circumstance, umpires have the right to order the abandonment of a race. All gigs must then follow umpires’ instructions.
  12. In the event of an obstruction, all crews and coxswains must act in a safe manner.
  13. The start line must be clearly marked at each end with transit lines to allow for clear sighting for both coxswains and startline officials. All racing gigs should be in a straight line in accordance with the markers. The startline official will judge the startline using the bows of the boats.
  14. Gigs must not steer across, in front of or so as to impede another gig, whether on a mark or straight line section of a course.
  15. Any overtaking gig must keep clear of any gig being overtaken.
  16. Subject to Rules 14 & 15, the first gig to turn a mark will have priority and the following gigs must avoid it, whatever the situation.
  17. If a gig leaves a gap between itself and a mark, a following gig can go through that gap – as long as it does not cause a collision and they do not impede the outside gig.
  18. All gigs must complete races by following the course as instructed.
  19. Coxswains must sit on the coxswain’s seat for the duration of the race unless there is a medical emergency, an incident with the rudder or so to avoid a collision from another gig behind them.


Get in touch if anything is unclear or you’d like more information.