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Proposal for a New RCA Membership Model

In January 2013, following the RCA Annual General Meeting, a Membership Category Review Working Group was formed to deal with membership structure concerns that were raised at that meeting.  The Working Group over the last two years has conducted a thorough review, consulted with the rowing community and brought a preliminary proposal to last year’s Semi-Annual Meeting that was endorsed by the RCA Members.  With this endorsement, the Working Group set out this past year to finalize the details and costs related to the implementation of this proposal.  It is this information that has shaped thefinal report that is presented here for your review and feedback.
The report can be accessed by clicking on the following link: Proposal - New RCA Membership Model

Please find attached an updated Question and Answer summary based on questions that arose in the feedback process and through calls that have been received by the Membership Category Working Group.  We hope this is helpful and the Committee is pleased to answer any other questions you might have.

If you have questions regarding this proposal, please check our website Q & A below or feel free to contact one of our Working Group Members:  

Marla Weston            mweston@rowingcanada.org
Jennifer Fitzpatrick    exdirector@rowingbc.ca
Derek Ventnor           derek@rowontario.ca
George Barkwell       gbarkwell@gdbconsulting.com
Brian Lamb                bjlamb@kpmg.ca
Donna Atkinson         datkinson@rowingcanada.org




Question 1. Why did the Committee decide that the $20 base fee and $3.25 seat fee was the best choice for the model starting in 2018?


There were three main reasons why the Committee decided on a $20 base fee with a $3.25 seat fee. 

1. Managing the financial risk to RCA.

In spite of much hard work by the Committee, only the base membership (number of registered participants) of RCA can be considered a reliable number at this stage. The regatta participation numbers are estimates at best and appear to fluctuate considerably from year to year. As a result, it was necessary to find a balance between a Base Fee and Seat Fee that would allow RCA to cover operating costs but still be manageable for participants. The Committee examined all the options and felt the $20 Base Fee and $3.25 Seat Fee was the best compromise. 

The usage of RegattaCentral for all Canadian sanctioned events will permit the collection of more accurate event participation numbers in the future. It would then be possible to re-examine the fees via the RCA Dues and Fees Committee.

2. Fairest approach for all participants.

The current RCA participant registration fee for a competitive rower is $50 annually, and that for a sport rower is $10. If a sport rower wishes to participate in even a single regatta, they must currently pay an upgrade fee of $40 to be allowed to enter. Under the new model, all athletes will be allowed to compete. The Seat Fee supports a "pay as you play" approach so those athletes who only do a single race, are not paying the same as an athlete who does 5 or more races. The fairest approach for all.

3. Regatta system development

The RCA operating costs for 2018-2020 includes additional development by RegattaCentral to ensure their system meets Canadian needs. This includes proper disbursements of funds to organizing committees, PRAs and RCA plus all screens in French and English and so on. The RegattaCentral system will also include APIs to designated third-party regatta management/progression systems.

RCA is aware that there are other regatta systems that offer excellent service which is why RCA issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) in December of 2015. RegattaCentral was the successful proponent of that REI.

Question 2. In the report you mention that there are "numerous complexities" associated with the implementation of a "regatta fee" as opposed to a "seat fee". Can you give a couple of examples of the "complexities"?


  • Example 1: 

A coach submits a Mens 8+ three months prior to the regatta and pays the per-regatta fee for each of the nine athletes in addition to the standard entry fee.

A month later another coach from the same club registers a Womens 4+ which includes the same coxswain as the Mens 8+. The registration system doesn’t invoice the coach for the coxswain’s per-regatta fee since it was collected and paid for by the first coach.

A week later the first coach returns to scratch the Mens 8+. At this point several issues arise; the coach will expect to get a refund, including the per-regatta fee for the coxswain even though that coxswain is still entered in the regatta. Assuming the system refunds the coach’s payment, the system must now also attempt to either automatically charge the second coach for the coxswain’s fee or notify them that they must login and submit payment (which then creates a requirement for downstream compliance and auditing to ensure payment).

  • Example 2:

Due to illness the morning of a regatta the line-up of a crew is changed by the coach. This change may or may not be recorded in the registration system depending upon how well staffed the regatta as well as how rigorously it enforces its rules. (RegattaCentral notes that in their experience regattas run the gamut from ‘very rigorous’ to ‘very lax’.)

The club (or, in some cases the athlete) who has paid for the registration will likely expect their per-regatta fee to be refunded. Likewise, because the fee is ‘per athlete per regatta’ the fee of the athlete who replaced the ill rower will also need to be collected. In an ideal world, regatta staff could handle all of these tasks at the time the change is reported by the coach. However, even well-staffed regattas are likely to defer such tasks until after the regatta, which then necessitates a variety of tools, reporting, and auditing to be used by RCA, the Provinces and the regatta to manage these tasks after the regatta; a time when most regatta staff are typically winding down their responsibilities for that year’s event.

Question 3. Why are all events charged the same "Seat Fee"? Shouldn't the fee be higher for a national event vs a smaller local event? Why not assign events to categories such as "National", "Provincial" and "Local" and charge accordingly?


The Committee reviewed many options for categorizing regattas and fee options. For example, basing the categories on stage of development, the goal or purpose, number of days and so on. Also generalized categories such as "National", "Provincial", "Regional" and "Local".  In all cases Committee members came up with examples that did not fit comfortably in one category or another. There were also concerns that some organizing committees may try to justify their event as a different category to reduce costs to participants. This would require additional bureaucracy to review an event and its category.

Multiple Seat Fees would also mean additional development costs on the RegattaCentral side. This would add to the overall operating costs and ultimately affect the Seat Fee. As a result, the Committee decided that a single Seat Fee for all sanctioned events was the most straight forward solution.

Question 4. We use Regatta Data (RegattaMaster etc) to manage progressions and race results. Will we now be required to use some other system?


As noted on page 8 of the report, and referenced in Question 1 above, custom APIs to connect the RegattaCentral event registration system to race results, timing systems and 3rd party applications is included in the development costs. There are already APIs to Regatta Data and Regatta Master. Please contact the Committee if you wish to have other systems added to the list. Every effort will be made to ensure a seamless connection with as many results systems as reasonable. 

Question 5. How does RegattaCentral manage ages of athletes? In some cases we want to use the actual age but in others we want to use the age the athlete will turn in that year.


RegattaCentral uses the concept of 'age models' which are configurable and reusable year-over-year and allow setting a custom pivot date for defining age.   

Each model within RegattaCentral defines the following attributes:

1. Minimum and maximum age per athlete permitted to race in an event.  Enforcement can be set as both strict and relaxed. If relaxed is selected then some warning text can also be set-up. This is useful for races where athletes are allowed to 'row down' even if technically they are out of range. 

'Relaxed' could also be used in the case of a scholastic event in which athletes must be, ‘Either a Senior or Under 18 years old as of June 30th’. In this case an athlete may be 18 and above the age limit but is  a senior and thus eligible.  So the entry form will allow the athlete to be included but they will be given a warning that the athlete must be a senior.

In the case where the age model has an upper or lower boundary set to  'strict' and an athlete is out of those bounds that athlete cannot be used in the entry.

2. Minimum and maximum average age of the crew. Similar to the above, enforcement can be set as both strict and relaxed.

3.  Each event can be configured with its own age model.  The age model supports a 'pivot date' which defines the month and day used to compute each athlete’s age.  

The system default is December 31st, as defined by the majority of governing bodies, but this can be customized. 

  • A regatta can have some events defining age and eligibility as December 31st and other events as, for example, June 30th
  • According to Regatta Central, custom dates have been used in some instances for indoor regattas or junior/youth events.

Question 6. Our club is primarily recreational with very few competitive athletes and a number of Learn to Row programs. What if our club chooses to only register athletes who will compete?


As is the case now, all member clubs must register all participants, including Learn to Row participants with RCA and their PRA to remain in good standing.

Question 7.  Does this mean that people who want to “come and try” rowing for the first time at a “come and try” event would have to pay the RCA base membership fee?


Rowing Canada Aviron has been looking at how to best support “come and try” events that are hosted by clubs.  For the first time rower who wants to participate in a "come and try" event, no RCA fee will be required. However, they will need to be registered and sign an event waiver to participate.  There will be a new process (April 2017) in WRS to accommodate this.

Question 8.  We have already built our own customized system for collecting entries for our regatta.  What if we choose to not use RegattaCentral?


As outlined in the report, all RCA events are required to be sanctioned and all sanctioned events will be required to use RegattaCentral. If the regatta OC has special requirements, they should discuss these requirements with RegattaCentral.  RegattaCentral serves a wide, diverse range of events and is likely able to accommodate.  If not, further customization may be necessary and the OC can work directly with RegattaCentral on this. The OC may incur customization charges, depending on the need.