Rowing The World Tour Leaders

As Rowing The World (RTW) grows, we are starting to select and prepare rowers to become Tour Leaders, who can support our local guides to run our rowing tours. Note that we tend to use the words “tour” and “trip” interchangeably.


Typically, every RTW tour has a Tour Leader plus rowing guide or guides and other support team members. In some destinations, the Tour Leader and local guides are the same. In some locations we have partnered with a local tourism company to assist with non-rowing logistics.

The Tour Leader serves as Rowing The World’s representative on a trip, working closely with and supporting the local guide(s). The Tour Leader takes ultimate responsibility for the tour. Their focus is primarily on the guests and the group dynamic plus non-rowing logistics.

Local guides are primarily responsible for the equipment and providing local knowledge especially of the on-water rowing plus launching and landing locations. The local guides take the lead in daily rowing details and decisions, in consultation with the Tour Leader. The local guides provide advice on weather conditions and the suitability of the day’s plan given forecasts, rowing distances, safety options and the group’s ability. Final decisions rest with the Tour Leader, although they should never over-rule the local guides on a safety issue.

It is not a requirement for a Tour Leader to know a destination and have experienced the trip in advance. It is preferred. Significantly more preparation, including potentially arriving a few days in advance of the trip, is required to be a Tour Leader in an unknown destination, and it can be more stressful. Some trips may have a language requirement for the Tour Leader, although in most destinations, the local guides provide the language interface for the tour.

The RTW Tour Leader has several specific responsibilities:

  1. Advance preparation in coordination with the RTW team.
  2. Support the local guides.
  3. Welcome briefing on the arrival day and briefing each evening for the next day.
  4. Setting boats for the next day.
  5. The Tour Leader is on the water with the group at all times, often in a shell or sometimes in a support boat. Some exceptions may apply. The Tour Leader always coxes one of the quads on the first day as part of an assessment of each rower’s ability (technical and fitness). The Tour Leader may take equal turn rowing as if a guest, but often, more coxing is required for various reasons. The priority is that the guests feel that they have had an amazing rowing experience.
  6. Potentially paying some expenses (many are pre-paid, we will know an estimate of expenses which require payment and will send an advance before the trip with reconciliation after).
  7. Address any tour logistic issues or problems not related to equipment (hotel, restaurant, activities). The RTW team will be available to assist with these, but due to time differences there may be a delay or a decision must be made when they are not available.
  8. Manage the group dynamic and spirit and address the needs of individual guests as required.
  9. Coordinate activity. Ensure the rowers are all equally helping with group and equipment tasks such as trailer loading, boat cleaning.
  10. Ensure that all local rowing rules are adhered to, including those set by the owner of the boats and the clubs which we are partnered with.
  11. On some tours, the Tour Leader will need to drive a min-van and transport guests. Typically these are eight or nine person vehicles and no special license is required.
  12. Manage the bar bill on behalf of the guests and ensure payment by guests.
  13. Ensure timeliness and that no one is missing when a bus leaves!
  14. Prepare a post-trip report.

Being a RTW Tour Leader is not a job. There may be one or two opportunities a year to lead a trip, plus potentially fulfilling a last-minute request to replace a Tour Leader who had to cancel. Tour Leaders may have a destination which they return to every time the trip runs, or they may lead trips in multiple destinations. This will be determined collaboratively, based on the needs of RTW and the interest and experience of the Tour Leaders.

Requirements for the Role

We expect tour leaders to be well experienced both in rowing but also in leadership, and to bring the appropriate skills with them.

  • Competent, confident rower
    • Good technique. Can row well if needed
    • Able to assess the skills of other rowers and make boat assignments
    • Adequately fit for the trip – should be able to row the distances
    • Understands equipment and can support the local guides if needed
    • Safety oriented – anticipating risks, planning for potential situations, instructing guests
  • Good people person
    • Combines empathy with authority
    • Tuned in to the guests and their needs as individuals – able to read people
    • Manages the group dynamic
    • Fun to be around, enjoys the guests and the trips, but not dominant
    • Easily can be in charge with a gentle touch
    • Flexible and adaptable – calm in challenging situations
  • Manages implementation details
    • Can assess and make decisions on risk, in conjunction with the local guides
    • Good judgement skills
    • Ensures that program works on the ground, including adjusting on the fly if needed
    • Good communication with RTW admin team
    • Superb team player with the rest of the guiding team – respectful and understands roles and responsibilities

Selection Process

If you have not yet filled out the Initial Interest form, please do so. We will be in touch once we receive it – although this may take some time. We may request more details via a second form. Prospective Tour Leaders will likely be interviewed via video call. If you have not previously taken a RTW trip, please consider this, as it typically is a pre-requisite.

Possible self-assessment questions

The selection process is as much about RTW finding suitable Tour Leaders as it is about potential candidates ensuring that they understand the requirements and whether they feel that they are well suited to be a Tour Leader.

  1. Where on the introvert vs. extrovert scale are you? A Tour Leader should not take over all the time, but also needs to be available to the guests as much as required.
  2. How well do you fare with unknowns and challenges?
  3. What is your motivation?

Process to Become a Tour Leader

  • Must have taken at least one RTW tour as a guest (exceptions might be made).
  • Take required pre-trip training. Tentatively includes:
    • First aid and CPR basic training.
    • We may ask you to take selected modules from an on-line guide training course offered through the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) – this has not yet been decided.
    • Session(s) with Ruth virtually in advance of a training trip.
    • Review of Standard Operating Procedures and tour details for the training trip.
  • Take a training trip with Ruth (or other). Will be required to pay own way there and direct costs but not the full tour price.
  • A second trip with Ruth or another Tour Leader shadowing may be required by RTW or requested by the Tour Leader in training.

Once You Are a Tour Leader

We will provide:

  • Transportation to and from the tour location, typically within the continent. This is still to be determined, and will likely vary on a case-by-case basis, but we may not be able to offer trans-ocean flights to get to a tour location. RTW will make final booking decisions.
  • All trip costs covered, including all tour inclusions and any other required direct expenses (for example meals not included in the tour price). Alcohol and other drinks, personal items are not included.
  • Tour leader fee – this will be a modest sum and has not finally been determined. It may vary by trip.

Setting dates and planning for future tours can often be a slow and complicated process. We will work with our Tour Leaders to facilitate their planning and participation. A minimum number of guests is required before a trip is confirmed to run.

Next Steps

Questions or comments? Please contact us. Planning for Tour Leaders is a new and evolving process. We are learning as we go. Ideas and suggestions on all aspects from selection and training are welcome!

Last updated 21 March 2022