Timing Regulations

There are no specific regulations for timing a Head race.

Regulations from other sports with a time trial format can be used to infer guidelines for an appropriate method of timing:

  • times should be given to a level of accuracy appropriate to the method of timing
  • times should not be mixed from different timing systems or timers
  • timing devices should be tested or certified to verify their accuracy

British Rowing

Rules of Racing: 2012

2.6.3 b) The judges shall determine the order in which the boats pass the finish line, and they may be required to determine distances between boats at the finish and/or approve records of time differentials. There is no minimum separation between crews that may not be recognised.

2.6.4 a) The judges shall declare a 'Dead Heat' only if it is absolutely impossible for them to identify a winner or place a crew. There is no minimum distance by which one boat may be judged to lead another at the line.

Rule 6 for the conduct of Head and Other Processional Races

6.1.4 d) Chief Timekeeper (Head Races). The Chief Timekeeper shall be responsible for a team whose task it is to mark the starting time and finish time for each crew and for calculating the net elapsed times.

6.1.6 d) The timekeeper shall record the crew number and the time the crew passes the line of the Start.

US Rowing

Rules of racing: 2012

2-501 The Order of Finish; Dead Heats
(a) A crew has finished the race when its bow or any part of its hull touches the plane of the finish line.
(b) It shall be considered a dead heat if two or more crews finish the race simultaneously, or if the judges, after having used all best efforts and available resources, are unable to determine the order of finish with reasonable certainty.

7-202 o) 3) The Judges' Stand shall have a photo finish camera, designed for use in judging the order of finish in sporting events, firmly mounted and positioned directly on the finish line.

Article VIII Head Races

8-104 Officials
f) Chief Judge: The Chief Judge shall mark the finish time of each crew, and shall be assisted by sufficient timers and clerical personnel to provide for the rapid and accurate determination of the order of finish.

8-108 The Start
f) As a crew approaches the starting line, the Starter shall instruct them as necessary to maintain the proper interval. As the crew touches the starting line, the Timer shall note the time and the identity of the crew for recording and communication by the Clerk.

8-110 The Finish
(a) As each crew touches the finish line, the Chief Judge shall mark the time of finish and the identity of the crew.
(c) At the completion of each event, the timers and clerical personnel under the supervision of the Chief Judge shall calculate the elapsed time for each crew by comparing the finishing time with the starting time. The order of finish shall be determined according to the order of elapsed times, after any time penalties have been assessed.


Rulebook 2011

Rule 93 Judges at the Finish

4. Timing - Intermediate times and finish times shall be recorded to 1/100th of a second. The necessary equipment shall be operated by specialists who do not form part of the team of Judges at the finish.

4.1 International Regattas - If the order of finish can be clearly determined by the naked eye, times taken by hand-operated timing equipment may be used. In the case of a photo finish the times shown on the result sheets and on the scoreboard shall be taken from the photo finish for all the crews in the race.

4.2 World Rowing Championship and Rowing World Cup regattas - All times shown on the result sheets and on the scoreboard shall be taken from the photo finish for all the crews in the race.

5. Photo finish - In the case of a close finish the Judge at the Finish shall determine the order of finish by viewing the picture produced by the photo finish system. If the Judge at the Finish is not able to determine the order of finish between two or more crews then the result will be declared as a dead heat between the crews involved. The necessary equipment shall be operated by specialists who do not form part of the team of Judges at the Finish. Systems using less than 100 frames per second are not suitable for determining the order of finish. Organisers must provide equipment specially designed for the purpose.

Appendix 1: Courses

3.3.4 Timing and Results Systems

Times shall be shown to 1/100th of a second on the Results Sheets and on the Scoreboard.

In the case of close finishes the order of finish must be determined by means of special equipment such as a photo finish camera, capable of measuring time differences to at least 1/100th of a second.

For World Championship regattas, a full back up of the timing/ results/ photo finish systems shall be provided. The timing/results/photo finish systems must comply with the specifications and descriptions given in the latest edition of"The FISA Manual for Rowing Championships.

International Athletics

IAAF Competition Rules 2010-2011

Rule 128 [Manual timing must be used as a backup to photo finish equipment]

Rule 165 Timing

10. For all hand-timed races, times shall be read and recorded as follows:
(a) For races on the track, unless the time is an exact 1/10th of a second, the time shall be read and recorded to the next longer 1/10th of a second.
(b) For races partly or entirely outside the stadium, unless the time is an exact whole second, the time shall be converted and recorded to the next longer whole second, e.g. for the Marathon 2:09:44.3 shall be recorded as 2:09:45. All times not ending in zero in the second decimal shall be converted and recorded to the next longer 1/10th of a second, e.g. 10.11 shall be recorded as 10.2.

14. [A photo finish system must be triggered to start within 1/1000th of the Starter's gun]

15. [A separate photo finish system at the Start and at the Finish shall not under any circumstances be used to obtain official times]

20. There should be at least two photo finish cameras in action, one from each side. Preferably, these timing systems should be technically independent, i.e. with different power supplies and recording and relaying the report of the Starter's gun, by separate equipment and cables.

23. [Times from a photo finish system should be rounded up: for races less than 10km, to 1/100th; for races longer than 10km to 1/10th; for races outside the stadium to 1second]

24. [Any race using a transponder system shall record times rounded up to 1 second]

International Cycling Union

Rules for Road Races

2.3.041 All times recorded by the timekeeper-commissaires shall be rounded down to the nearest second.

2.4.015 Finishing times shall be taken to the nearest one-tenth of a second at least.

2.4.016 At the world championships and the Olympic Games times shall be taken and communicated to the nearest one-hundredth of a second.

Cycling Time Trials England and Wales


39. Electronic timers and watches shall have obtained a certificate from a tester approved by the National Committee showing it has fulfilled the requirements of the relevant test.

42. Any part of a second in timing shall be recorded for all purposes as the next whole second except in the case of hill-climbs where timing shall be to 1/10th of a second.

International Ski Federation

Timing Booklet 2010


A manual system must be used to back up any electronic timing system.

Two independent electronic timing systems must be used, with one as the main system and one as the backup. All times must be taken from one or the other. It is not permitted to mix times.

If times are inserted from a different type of timing system (e.g a manual timer or a photo finish camera) they must average the difference in time for a number of previous and subsequent competitors, and not just take the time for the missing competitor.

All timing equipment must be certified.

Timing systems must have an accuracy of better than 0.01 seconds per hour over an extended temperature range.

Timing systems at start and finish must be synchronised to better than 5 milliseconds.