Australian Boat Race Rules

  1. The conduct of the Race shall be the sole responsibility of the Umpire, who shall be appointed by the Convenor/Host University. The Umpire(s) shall be fully accredited under Rowing NSW, Rowing Victoria and/or Rowing Australia auspices.

  2. Each crew must be in the vicinity of the start seven minutes before race time and submit to and obey the instructions of the Umpire and the Starter.

  3. Crews may start when the starter calls “Go” and his/her flag has started moving. Any crew starting before either event will be deemed to have had a false start and may be penalized one length at the start by the Umpire for each false start. Any crew with two false starts may be disqualified at the Umpire’s discretion. Crews are expected to display proper sportsmanship and start in accordance with correct procedure.

  4. A boat’s proper course is such that it will enable the crew to reach the winning post in the shortest possible time, provided that it allows ample water for the other crew to steer its proper course on the side on which it started, when that crew is in a position to enforce its right to that water. A boat moving into the water of another crew when that crew is in a position to enforce their right to their course does so at its own peril in the event of a foul occurring.

  5. The Umpire shall be the sole judge of a boat’s proper course. He/she may warn either or both crews when he/she considers that there is danger of a foul occurring, or if there is any obstruction on the course, but he/she shall not otherwise direct the steering of either crew.

  6. Boats may cross from their station if they have “clear water” over their opponent. Clear water is defined as having a lead that enables a crew to cross the path of the opposing crew without impeding the progress of that crew in any way other than making turbulent water. The Umpire will be the sole judge of clear water and may order a crew back to their station if in the Umpire’s opinion a boat crossing an opponent does not have clear water.

  7. It shall be considered a foul, when after the race has started, there shall be any physical contact between the boats, oars, or persons, of the two crews. In the event of a foul occurring the Umpire may, at the end of the race, disqualify a crew if in his/her opinion the foul(s) committed were deliberate and unduly influenced the outcome of the race.

  8. The crews shall abide by their accidents. In the event of a genuine misadventure, however, the Umpire may declare “No Race”, and order a restart, or a re-row at any point during the race. In the event of a “safety issue” the Umpire may order the crews to stop rowing and may restart them with the leading crew approximately the same distance or time ahead as they were when the race was stopped.

  9. If either crew is interfered with by any outside agency to such an extent as to unduly influence the result of the race the Umpire may order a re-start or re-row at his/her discretion.

  10. Each crew may have two members (rowers or cox) who are graduates of the university which the crew represents. All other crew members must be currently enrolled students (undergrad or postgrad) who are attending lectures and taking exams and/or assignments.

Melbourne-specific rules for the Yarra River

  1. Warm up will be done upstream of the start line and in another area as instructed by the Convenor and/or Race Umpire or Starter. Crews may go downstream of the start line but only as far as the junction of the Eastern end of Herring Island and in the line of sight of the starter.

  2. Bridge navigation – notwithstanding Rules 4, 5 and 8, crews will use bridge arches allocated to their stations as follows:


Sydney-specific rules for Sydney Harbour                                         

  1. No crew may steer on the inside (land side) of any permanently moored boat.

  2. At any headland or narrow point of the course (if no crew has clear water) then the crew furthest out from land or moorings must leave at least three boat widths, including oars, between their boat and the land or moorings.

  3. The boat starting on the Northern station shall finish at the eastern arch of the Pyrmont Bridge. The boat starting on the Southern station shall finish at the western arch of the Pyrmont Bridge. This refers to the two centre spans of the bridge.

End of Rules