Talk about Rowing

Broadcasting the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race, 1928.

13 March 2018

Do you like to talk about rowing?

Now you have the chance to try your skills on the world stage. The other day, FISA, announced on their website that the organisation is looking for an experienced guest rowing commentator for the World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia, on 1 to 3 June. You have to be able to ‘verbally paint colourful pictures of a race, entertain the audience as well as inform them with all they need to know about the athletes, the race, the event and World Rowing,’ it states on FISA’s website.

‘We have a great team of experienced commentators that our onsite spectators are used to hearing. But we also know that there are many others out there who are commentating at national rowing events, have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and are eager for an opportunity to commentate at a World Rowing event. This is their chance,’ Colleen Orsmond, World Rowing’s Sport Director, said.

However, FISA is having a competition to fill this guest commentator position. The lucky ‘winner’ will join the race commentary team at the first World Cup event in Belgrade. Race commentary – which is different from World Rowing’s live video-streaming commentary – is heard by the spectators onsite as well as via the audio stream which accompanies the live race tracker on The team arranging the onsite sports presentation at World Rowing’s events is Sports Presentation Services (SPS).

‘Our commentators entertain a large crowd composed of multiple groups. We have the spectators onsite consisting of first timers, rowing fans, families and friends of athletes, media as well as local dignitaries and sponsors supporting the event. At the same time, we have the online audience consisting mainly of rowing fans who want to be able to picture the race while listening to the audio stream and watching the live race tracker. For that, they need stroke rates and positions,’ Sebastian Franke, SPS’ producer, explained. ‘Usually our commentators are accompanied by local-language commentators. They share the job by switching between English and the local language every 30-45 seconds in a race. The ability to talk fast, while still being clear and precise, is highly valued. Our audience is truly multinational, so speaking clearly and using commonly-understood phrases is essential. It is also important to share knowledge of boats, technical aspects and athlete information for those in the audience who are less informed.’

Franke continued, ‘We are trying hard to create a holistic spectator experience, mixing the input from the commentators, music, the tower announcers, the presenters and the onsite video programme to bring across the excitement of our sport. It is truly a team effort.

So what can a guest commentator expect from the experience?

‘Being part of the sports presentation team is a very demanding task but also very satisfying. To be able to contribute to a positive perception of our sport is truly fulfilling,’ Franke said.

Are you interested? Here is how you enter the competition:

Applicants should record themselves commentating, in English, two full races (i.e. from 2 minutes before the start through the finish) and e-mail their recordings to The application needs to be received by 22 March 2018.

FISA has pre-selected two races and they are the:

2017 World Rowing Championships Women’s Eight A Final – click here.

2017 World Rowing Championships Lightweight Men’s Quarterfinal 4 – click here.

The files should be in a standard audio format, such as .mp3 or .wav.

Terms and conditions:
Contestants must be available to travel to Belgrade, Serbia, to be on site from the morning of 31 May until the evening of Sunday 3 June. The guest commentator will receive flight tickets, hotel accommodation, breakfast, lunch and local transport in Belgrade, as well as a daily stipend.

World Rowing reserves the right to not appoint a guest commentator in the case of no suitable candidates applying. The guest commentator position is offered for the first World Rowing Cup regatta of 2018 only. There is no commitment to further engagement as a World Rowing commentator and no employment relationship to World Rowing is implied.

The winner will be announced on 10 April 2018.

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