Rowers in the US are divided into three basic classifications when competing, Age, Skill, and Weight. The following has been taken from the USRowing Website, a link of which can be found in this post.
Since a competitor’s classification by skill shall not be determined separately with respect to weight classifications, it is best to view rowers classifications in the order of Age, Skill and then Weight.
Junior: A Junior is a competitor who in the current calendar year does not attain the age of 19, or who is and has been continuously enrolled in secondary school as a full time student seeking a diploma. A competitor thus ceases to be a Junior after December 31 of the year of his or her 18th birthday, or of the year in which he or she completes the 12th grade of secondary school, having been a full time student, whichever is later.
Masters: A Master is a competitor who has attained or will attain the age of 21 during the current calendar year. A competitor’s age is determined as of December 31 of the current calendar year, rounded down to the highest contained integer. A competitor thus becomes a Master on January 1 of the year of his or her 21st birthday. A Masters crew shall be comprised exclusively of Masters rowers, but the coxswain need not be a Master.
The age category of a Masters crew shall be determined by the average age of the rowers in the crew, rounded to the nearest integer. The age of a coxswain shall not be counted. The ages of individual rowers need not fall within the age category, so long as each rower is a Master and so long as the average age of the crew falls within the applicable category.
Rule 4-105 from the USRowing Rules of Rowing
(a) A competitor’s classification by skill shall be determined separately with respect to sweep events and sculling events. Except for the provisions of subsection (b)(2) below (Elite status affecting scull or sweep status), a competitor’s classification in one category shall not affect his or her classification in the other. A competitor’s classification by skill shall not be determined separately with respect to open events and lightweight events, and thus a competitor’s status as Elite, Senior or Intermediate is applicable regardless of weight class.
(b) Competitors shall be classified according to skill by the following criteria:
- (1) Intermediate: A competitor is an Intermediate who has not advanced to the status of Senior or Elite.
- (2) Senior: A competitor is a Senior who has won any intermediate or senior event over 2,000 meters at the USRowing National Championships or at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and who has not advanced to the status of Elite. A competitor who is an Elite as a sweep rower shall be advanced to Senior for all sculling events, and a competitor who is an Elite as a scull rower shall be advanced to Senior for all sweep events.
- (3) Elite: A competitor is an Elite who has been a member of a USRowing National Team as a competitor (including as a spare) in the category at issue, other than in a Junior or Masters event.
(e) All changes in classification by skill shall take effect on January 1 following the year of competition.
(f) Any other provision of these rules notwithstanding, a competitor who is not an amateur shall be deemed an Elite for all events, whether sweep or sculling, open or lightweight.
An athlete of any weight can enter the open categories, although the average woman in an open race will approach 6′ in height and an average open weight man 6’6″.