The sport's governing body is formally known as the "Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron" (English translation: International Federation of Rowing Associations), though, the majority of the time, either the initialism "FISA" or the English co-name, World Rowing, which the organization "uses for 'commercial purposes,'" is used to refer to it. Founded by representatives from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Adriatica (now a part of Italy), and Italy in Turin on 25 June 1892, FISA is the oldest international sports federation in the Olympic movement.
The standard length races for the Olympics and the World Rowing Championships is 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) long; 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) - 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) for US high school races on the east coast; and 1,000 m for masters rowers (rowers older than 27). However the race distance can and does vary from dashes or sprints, which may be 500 metres (1,640 ft) long, to races of marathon or ultra-marathon length races such as the Tour du Léman in Geneva, Switzerland which is 160 kilometres (99 mi), and the 2 day, 185-kilometre (115 mi) Corvallis to Portland Regatta held in Oregon, USA. In the UK, regattas are generally between 500 metres (1,640 ft) and 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) long.
Founded in 1818, Leander Club is the world's oldest public rowing club. The second oldest club which still exists is the Der Hamburger und Germania Ruder Club which was founded 1836 and marked the beginning of rowing as an organized sport in Germany. During the 19th century, as in England, wager matches in North America between professionals became very popular attracting vast crowds. Narragansett Boat Club was founded in 1838 exclusively for rowing. During an 1837 parade in Providence, R.I, a group of boatmen were pulling a longboat on wheels, which carried the oldest living survivor of the 1772 Gaspee Raid. They boasted to the crowd that they were the fastest rowing crew on the Bay. A group of Providence locals took issue with this and challenged them to race, which the Providence group summarily won. The six-man core of that group went on the following year to found NBC in 1838. Detroit Boat Club was founded in 1839 and is the second oldest continuously-operated rowing club in the U.S. In 1843, the first American college rowing club was formed at Yale University. The Harvard–Yale Regatta is the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the United States,http://rowinghistory.net/Time%20Line/TL%20-1849images.htm having been contested every year since 1852 (excepting interruptions for wars).
For a third option, you can look to hydraulic machines, which use pistons to generate resistance. Hydraulic rowers are quiet, and they also tend to be smaller and cheaper than other kinds of rowing machines, but you won’t get the same smooth rowing feel, or the consistency of resistance, that you would get with an air or water rower. What's more, reviewer after reviewer has found them unreliable and high-maintenance.
The rowing machine itself is unlike any other on the market with its patented water filled flywheel. It is hard to exactly copy the action of a scull on the water, but the mechanics of the flywheel spinning in water comes in a close second on dry land. The fact that the water is 800 times denser than air means that there is no need for any extra resistance or dampening that you will find in normal air rowers. The faster you pull, the more resistance is generated giving it infinite variability. However, if you want to be able to practice rowing with a faster stroke, you will have to reduce the amount of water in the tank unlike an air rower where you just have to adjust the baffle.