Following is my opinion about assistance, I think it is also yours,
it is in fact common sense, so why not having an "ORS official"
definition to settle the subject ?
First, you are entirely right
to distinguish the ocean rows before (circa) 1981, and those after.
As I have said many times, things have more changed after 1981/82
than between Christopher Columbus up until 1980.
In 1980 I was carrying more water than the weight of my boat!
Contacts with the continent were very rare and celestial navigation
was tricky in a very small boat, and more than any accident aid
meant, without a miracle, death.
We were tests pilots without parachute! That year two other rowers,
rowing on the same route, Kerr and Wilson , disappeared presumed
Today, the weight saving is enormous with the watermakers (and you
know how the lightness is a thing important for me). The solar
panels are more and more efficient and let rowers to produce water
automatically; the communications are common with reliable
equipment, easy to use and almost weightless and affordable,
navigating is now made easy even to the first simpleton to come,
and, most of all, distress beacons allows anyone who has a problem,
to give up and to start again the next year. It is a challenge
totally different from the old days and all these new equipment
constitute a huge assistance in comparison to the pioneers’ that we
Those, where the assistance is planned,
represented by a programmed supplying or by an accompaniment.
Those, where the assistance or other form of direct help,
although not planned, is organized by the rower or by his family/
friends. So, here, it is a response to a "request of assistance" (in
the maritime legal meaning of the word),