Rules & Stakeboat Procedures


Start Rules

A Traffic Light Start System will be used at the starting line for semi-finals and finals.  Please review the procedures below. If for some reason the light system were to fail, the start will be given using flags.

Starting Commands with Lights

(a) After the crews have been announced, the Starter shall start the race by:

  1. Calling out “Attention!”
  2. The Starter shall press a button to change the traffic lights from the neutral (unlit/black) position to red
  3. After a distinct and variable pause, the Starter shall give the starting command by pressing a button that shall at the same moment:
  • Change the red light to green
  • Make an audible signal through the loudspeakers

(b) If, after the red light has been illuminated, the Starter believes for any reason that the start should not occur, he or she shall call out, “As you were!” and change the lights from red to neutral. The Starter shall repeat the starting commands in their entirety, but may dispense with announcing the crews.

(c) Crews may leave the starting line when the light turns from red to green.

Quick Start Rules

USRowing adopted new rules regarding the start of races in 2012.    Most of you have raced under these new rules, but we encourage all athletes to review this summary and accompanying video

A summary:

Under the prior regulations governing starts, if a coxswain raised a hand to indicate that the crew was not ready, the start was delayed. Under the new rules, a raised hand will not be recognized and the official will begin the start process when he believes that boats are aligned, pointed and it is safe to begin.
During events that are difficult due to wind or current conditions, the officials will use a “quick start procedure,” that, in effect, replaces the old countdown start.  With the new start sequence, the officials will announce the name of the crew, sequentially by lane, using a “deliberate cadence.” When the crews are named, the official will call “attention,” raise the red start flag, pause and then say “go” as the flag is dropped.

In a quick start situation, when the official sees that the crews are aligned, the command will be “quick start,” followed by, “attention,” raising the flag, then “go” as the flag is dropped.

In each start situation, crews signaling they are not ready will not be acknowledged. It will be up to the discretion of the official at the start to determine if a crew is not ready, in which case the official will slowly lower the flag and announce, “as you were.”

For more info and a video, go to


Backing onto a Stakeboat

Here’s a great video on how to back onto a stakeboat.