First Beach Sprints Rowing Coach takes up oars at St Andrews
One of the first dedicated Beach Sprints rowing coaches in the world will join the University of St Andrews later this year.
Iain Docwra will take up the post of Scottish Rowing Beach Sprints Pathway Coach at the University on 1 August 2023. The post, funded by sportscotland, is one of three new full-time coaching roles recently recruited as part of Scottish Rowing’s Performance Pathway team and aims to identify and prepare athletes for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Iain, originally from Crinan, on the West Coast, is an accomplished lightweight rower and competitive sailor. He gained an invite to GB rowing ‘final trials’ in 2011 and has been a sailing coach, chief instructor, and beach manager in various roles in Scotland, France, and New Zealand.
Transitioning to rowing coaching through the sportscotland funded Coaching Futures programme in 2016, Iain took up a role with Scottish Rowing at the University of Glasgow before being promoted to Head Coach in 2020. He will join St Andrews from his current position with Scottish Rowing based at Shrewsbury School, where he has been the Lead Women’s Coach since September 2022.
Iain said: “I am very much looking forward to combining my passion for rowing and love of being out on coastal waters in this exciting new role. I can’t wait to get started and work with all the local partners in St Andrews to create opportunities for people to take up coastal sculling as we build a team towards the Commonwealth Games in 2026.”
Rowing has been one of Scotland’s leading Olympic sports over several cycles, consistently punching above its weight both domestically and internationally, with Scottish rowers making up one fifth of Team GB at Tokyo 2020.
Scottish Rowing aims to build a world-leading Beach Sprints programme in the lead up to the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia, where coastal rowing in this new discipline will make its Games debut, and the 2026 Youth Olympic Games. A decision on whether the sport will be included in the 2028 Olympic programme is expected from the IOC later in 2023.
The Scotland Rowing Team has already enjoyed some early success in this new discipline – winning the team trophy at the inaugural Home International Rowing Beach Sprints held in St Andrews in August 2022, as well as topping the medal table at the 2022 Commonwealth Rowing Association Beach Sprint Championships in Namibia in December – which bodes well as Scottish Rowing builds a team towards Victoria 2026 and beyond.
Scottish Rowing has been working in partnership with the University of St Andrews to establish a Scottish Coastal Sculling Performance Centre based at East Sands. St Andrews has also been identified as a leading venue for a potential GB Coastal Sculling Academy which could follow any decision regarding the discipline’s inclusion in the Olympic programme.
Scottish Rowing and the University have held positive discussions with local partners, including Fife Sports and Leisure Trust and Fife Council, regarding support for a Scottish and potential GB programme.
It is hoped that the investment in a national performance programme will also serve as a catalyst for the growth of local student and community coastal sculling activity.
Stephen Stewart, Director of Sport at the University, said: “We are delighted to hear such a positive announcement and look forward to playing our part in developing a Scottish coastal sculling performance centre based at East Sands to support Scottish Rowing’s Beach Sprints programme as they build towards the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.”
Emma Walker, Chief Executive of Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, said: “It is great to see the success of the Coastal Rowing initiative led by the University of St Andrews and we look forward to working with Iain.
“The trust is committed to the delivery of community-based sports and leisure services for all ages and abilities, and we have a long legacy of working with local partners to widen access.
“Equally, we have many examples of supporting local clubs and elite athletes to help them further their performance and progress. I’d like to wish Iain every success in his new role.”
Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing Head of Performance Pathway, said: “Scottish Rowing is delighted that we have been able to secure additional investment to employ one of the first dedicated Beach Sprints coaches anywhere in the world.
“It is an exciting time for coastal sculling in Scotland as we build a team towards the Commonwealth Games in 2026 and beyond.
“We have been really impressed with the ambition of all the local partners involved and this presents a fantastic opportunity to build a world-leading Beach Sprints programme here in St Andrews.”
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.