Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Coxing Check-list

This is a list of items which coxes should check prior to an outing. These checks must be carried out regularly, and prior to every night-time outing, to ensure that the boat is fit to row and is unlikely to break down during an outing.

* Bow-ball must be fitted and secure, not split or perished.
* All hatches must be covered (hatches can be taped over in an emergency but arrange to have the cover replaced)
* Rigger bolts and top-bolts should be tight
* All heel-restraints must be fitted and secure; the sole of the shoe must not lift above the horizontal.
* The rudder should move freely, there should be no fraying or chafing of the rudder lines, and the rudder top-bolt should be tight.
* The cox must wear a suitable life-jacket or buoyancy-aid; life-jackets must not be worn under other clothing. Note that only a manual life-jacket may be used in a bow-coxed boat.

For night-time rowing only

* White lights must be securely fitted to bow and stern, each with at least 180 degrees of illumination. Fit a lanyard if lights are fixed using suction cups.
* A flashing red light must also be shown at the stern
* Cox and Bow must wear reflective clothing
* Thermal blankets must be carried, at least three in a four, five in an eight
* A throw-line should be carried unless there is a bank-party who should be carrying one
* A first-aid kit must be brought to the boathouse; it can be left behind or taken in the boat
* A mobile phone must be carried by cox, a crew member, or the bank-party
* Cox and bank-party (if present) should be able to communicate via radio-link or telephone
* In the absence of a bank-party, the cox should have arranged for someone to be on-call in case of emergency

Page last updated 4/5/2008 AIN

Chesterton R.C. Night Rowing Policy


This document is based upon a risk assessment carried out in accordance with ARA guidelines. Its purpose is to explain the club procedures designed to mitigate the risks associated specifically with rowing at night. These measures are in addition to the safety measures required for safe rowing in daylight.


The club captain’s express permission is required for all crews wishing to row at night.

No coxless boat or scull may be used at night

No college boats may be used at night

No inexperienced crew members may row at night. Inexperienced crew are those who have taken part in less than twelve outings in fine, racing boats, or until judged competent by the Club Captain.

Only those coxes on the night-time coxes list may cox at night. All coxes wishing to be added to this list must discuss this with the club captain who will ensure that the cox is suitably experienced or trained.

No rowing in bad weather – common sense should be used. Remember poor weather conditions that are acceptable for daylight outings may not be acceptable for a night time outing.

No rowing if the river is in flood, sufficient to obscure the edge of the hard.

The bank party

There has been a great deal of discussion concerning bank parties, both within the club and within the CRA. The Chesterton risk assessment established that the bank party face more potentially harmful risks than the crew in the boat. Therefore Chesterton do not require that a bank party be present for night outings. The most serious risks faced by a bank party are a collision on the towpath, with either other people or objects, particularly if such collisions result in the bank party falling into the river. Therefore the following precautions emphasise the need for a bank party to be visible and to be protected if a collision occurs.

The bank party should wear:

* Warm clothing
* A high visibility vest
* Cycle helmet
* Automatic life jacket – this must not be worn under clothing.
* Their bike should be well maintained have both bike lights and reflectors fitted

The bank party should also carry:

* Attack alarm – there is a slight risk of an altercation with other towpath users. Bank parties should avoid confrontations and be aware of their surroundings. This alarm may also be useful in alerting the boats crew to other problems.
* Thermal blanket
* Throw line – you must know how to use this!

The bank party should be aware of the risks of following the boat and understand that they are not there to coach but to act as a lookout. Bank parties have responsibility for both their own safely and that of other towpath users.

The outing Equipment

Every night outing must be equipped with the following:

* Lights – bright white lights that shine 360 degrees. These may be 2 lights each shining 180 degrees mounted at the bow and stern. Make sure the boat is visible from the side. In addition a flashing red light should be carried on the stern. Spare batteries should be carried and the lights should be tethered to the boat to avoid them being lost overboard. In the event of a light failure the boat must not be moved until the light has been fixed or replaced.
* Reflective clothing – The bowperson must wear a high visibility vest.
* First Aid kit (stored in boats)
* Throw line – Should be carried by the bank party (if present) or in the boat.
* Thermal blankets – at least one between two (i.e. 5 are needed in an VIII).
* Extra clothing – Hypothermia is a serious risk at night. The cox must ensure they wear enough to keep warm and the crew must have extra layers in case of a breakdown or a change in the weather. It is advisable to leave a change of clothing at the boathouse.
* Crew members should not feel pressured to start or continue an outing if they are cold; victims of hypothermia may be unaware of their condition, and the crew should be aware of symptoms and be proactive in observing other crew members- especially the cox. The safety of all crew members takes priority over the outing.
* Tool kit – tools should be carried in the boat sufficient to make minor repairs- at least a rigger jigger and an adjustable spanner. Do not attempt repairs beyond your competence.
* Mobile phone, in a waterproof container. The phone must have the contact details of the Club Captain and Water Safety Advisor stored in it.

Before the outing

The Cox should brief the crew and bank party before the outing outlining the particular risks associated with night rowing. This briefing should ensure that each crewmember understands:

* Risks around the boathouse – extra care should be taken on the hard and around the boathouse in the dark, particularly in winter when ice may form.
* Man Overboard – In all cases the Club Captain and Water Safety Adviser should be informed immediately. The victim needs to be warmed and dried as soon as possible; in an emergency, the Penny Ferry restaurant or residential boaters may provide help, or a car may be brought to the riverbank, if it is deemed by the cox that the victim’s condition is sufficient to prevent the boat being rowed back to the boathouse.
* The Capsize drill – after a capsize the crew must stay with the boat. The boat provides buoyancy and is visible to other craft. Swim with the boat to the towpath side of the river, check for and treat any injuries and assess the situation. In all cases, a member of the committee and/or the emergency services should be contacted immediately. If the crew are all OK bail the boat out and row back to the boathouse. If anyone is injured or cold consider the risk of hypothermia and telephone for help. The safely of club members is more important than the equipment, if needs be abandon the boat and arrange for it to be collected by another crew.
* Responsibilities of the bank party – the bank party is primarily responsible for both their own safety and that of other towpath users. They can act as a lookout only when they are not engaged in looking after themselves.
* The role of the cox – the cox is the master of the boat and as such carries responsibility for the safety of her/his crew and boat, and the safety of other river users. This is a more onerous responsibility at night and the crew should understand that coxing commands are to be obeyed, as always, promptly and without discussion.

Boat Checks

The cox should personally check that all of the equipment listed above is available and in working order. In addition to the normal safety checks (bow ball, shoes and hatch covers, first aid kit, thermal blanket and tools) the boat should be inspected to limit the risks of it breaking down and stranding the crew on the river. See coxing check-list.

No outing should take place in a defective or under-equipped boat.

On the water

On the river, in addition to normal daytime safety rules, the following guidelines should be observed:

* Spinning – Spinning should be carried out well clear of corners, particularly on the reach, where boats should (as always) spin between the two posts situated by the Haling Way. If present the bank party should position themselves to warn any oncoming boat
* Firm pressure – should be used only on the long reach. In addition corners should be taken with care, especially the cross-over points and Grassy Corner, at low speed and as far over to the correct side of the river as is practicable. The bank party (if present) should cycle ahead to ensure the river is clear and warn the Cox of oncoming boats.
* Feet-out rowing must not be undertaken at night, as it prevents the boat from stopping quickly in an emergency.
* Breakdown procedure – Should the boat break down move to the towpath side of the river and stop. Assess the situation and ensure that the crew are warm. If the problem can be repaired then do so. If not then call for help and arrange for the boat to be collected. If the crew are cold or otherwise unsafe then abandon the boat and walk to safety. In particular no boat with a damaged rudder is to be moved at night (even if the cox would normally feel competent in moving a rudderless boat in the day). In this situation call for help and have the boat towed back to the boathouse either by asking powered craft for assistance or using the tub.
* Avoidance of swamping – the most potentially harmful risks identified are those events that lead to crew members or bank parties falling into the river. This is highly unlikely with a competent crew in an VIII or IV in good weather. One potentially risky situation remains outside of club control: it is possible that the wash produced by another vessel could swamp a rowing boat. If a cox feels that swamping is a possibility than they should stop the boat and have the crew sit it, and ideally turn to meet the wash bows-on. This should ensure the boat does not capsize even if it takes on water. No power boat on the Cam should be going fast enough to create a dangerous wash. In the event of crew members getting excessively wet, the situation should be assessed and the precautions against hypothermia detailed above should be followed.
* Other craft – the cox should be aware of the lights used by other craft on the Cam. In particular they should know how to interpret the visible lights and horn signals of moving power boats.


Rowing at night carries more risks than rowing in daylight but as long as the crew, cox and any bank party are aware of the procedures for mitigating these risks then it can be undertaken in reasonably safely. The purpose of this document is not to put rowers off night rowing but to ensure that night outings can be as productive and safe as possible.

Water Quality

A few words about the water quality of the river Cam and how to reduce the risk of catching anything nasty while rowing.

Firstly a quick read through various web sites and on-line databases suggests that the Cam is not in bad shape. The major pollutants are at acceptable concentrations and fish stocks are healthy…. However that is far from saying the water is safe to swim in or drink during a capsize/cox dunking session.


The most serious risk to your health is from leptospirosis which is “a bacterial infection resulting from exposure to the Leptospira interrogans bacterium. There is an acute form of human infection known as Weil's Disease, where the patient suffers from jaundice, though this term is often (incorrectly) used to describe any case of infection.”

Lots of good advice about reducing the risk of infection can be found on the web so, rather than attempting to re-write it here, I would like you all to read the ARA guidelines.

Those who found that insufficient will find lots more info at the leptospirosis information centre.

Finally, for pictures of the Bacteria, its effects and a rather smug looking rodent see: leptospirosis link.

In summary:

* Keep and cuts and blisters covered and dry
* Wash your hands before eating and shower after falling in.
* If you get flu like symptoms 1-3 weeks after an outing don't forget to tell the doctor that leptospirosis may be a possibility.

Cynobacteria and Gastro-intestinal illness

The ARA site also has guidelines on Cynobacteria and Gastro-intestinal illness which you should also read. Cynobacteria are unlikely to be a problem on the Cam which has a strong current. However, the Gastro-intestinal illness sections suggests that risk of these infections is increased if sewage is present in the water. Sewage does get into the river Cam, both from the outfalls of two sewage treatment plants, and from boats fitted with sea toilets, therefore you should all be aware of the risk and remember to wash your hands/shower after outings.

The one nice thing about these potential health risks is that they can be mitigated by simple measures, so now you are aware of them they shouldn't worry you unduly.

James Howard.

Page last reviewed 13/10/2011 WMC

Tracking post - pages migrated from the website

This page just lists pages migrated from the website.

* water safety from http://www.chestertonrowingclub.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=5
* water quality from http://www.chestertonrowingclub.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=8
* coxing check list from http://www.chestertonrowingclub.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=12
* night rowing policy from http://www.chestertonrowingclub.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=10

Water Safety


The ARA publishes water safety information on its web site. Follow this link to find the ARA water safety code.

Map of the River

The Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs publish a detailed map of the river, which includes locations of the college boathouses. Follow this link to find the CUCBC handbook (in PDF format.)

CUCBC Handbook

The Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs publish a handbook, with important safety information. It is aimed primarily at college and university rowers, but much of it is applicable to town rowers too. Follow this link to find the CUCBC handbook (in PDF format.)

Refer to the following sections:

* 3 - Rules of the River
* K - Coxing Guidelines
* O - Map of the River
* P - Code of Conduct for Anglers and Rowers

I have selected the sections which are applicable to Chesterton RC coaches and coxes, and I expect all CRC crews to abide by them with the following exceptions:

* Rule 11 - night time rowing - to be conducted in accordance with CRA rules, and only with the captain's agreement. Only accredited night-time coxes may be used. See-also night rowing policy.
* Various rules concerning which crews are allowed out at specific times apply only to college and university crews.
* various rules concerning "novices" - the CUBC definition of a novice is different from the definition used by ARA and town clubs. In general, for "novice" read "beginner".

All outings should be coached (or at least accompanied from the bank) where possible; coxes and rowers in coxless boats must be assessed for competence before being allowed out un-accompanied.


All accidents and serious incidents must be reported to the regional safety advisor and to ARA. Please contact club water safety adviser, who will handle the details of filing a report.

Water Safety Advisor

The current club water safety adviser is listed on the club contacts page.


Rowing shoes have a strap which connects the heel of the shoe to the foot-stretcher (the platform to which the shoe is attached.)

The purpose of heel-straps is to save your life in the event of a capsize, by holding the heel of the shoe, allowing you to pull your feet free and escape from under the boat.

Each heel-strap must be attached in such a way that the sole of the shoe does not rise above the horizontal. Heel-straps must not be looped through the bottom-mounting of the foot-stretcher in such a way that lifting one shoe pulls the other down.

Rowers shall not disconnect their heel-straps. This endangers other crew members, and can result in disqualification of the boat or delays boating in races.

Coxes should regularly ask the crew to check that heel-straps are correctly fitted (see coxing instructions on information page.)

High water

If the river is high, exercise particular care when boating, or when choosing to boat. It is always the coxes's call whether to boat or not. If you cannot see the edge of the bank through the water you are likely to damage the boat landing and then you should definitely not go out. Also important is the flow: if the stream is strong, consider carefully whether your crew will be able to cope. The CUCBC have a flag system which is usually up to date and a good place to check but never go out if you don't feel confident.


All hatch-covers should be in place when a boat is put out on the river. Hatches can be taped-over as a temporary measure, but the fault must be reported and fixed.

Bow Balls

The bow ball is a mandatory piece of safety equipment; this must be securely fixed to the bow of the boat, and must not be split or loose. The test for this is whether the bow-ball can be pushed to the side, which would render it ineffective.

Life-jackets and buoyancy aids

Buoyancy aids are padded waist-coats, which provide some support to someone who can already swim. They will not turn an unconscious person face-up in the water. A buoyancy aid, however, will provide the cox with a small degree of physical protection in the case of a collision.

Life-jacets on the other hand will, once inflated, turn a person over in the water so that they are face-up, and will support their head above water. Life-jackets provide no protection from impact. There are two types of life-jacket, viz. manual and automatic. An automatic life-jacket will inflate itself when submerged, or may be activated by pull ign a toggle. A manual life-jacket can only be activated by pulling a toggle.

Automatic and manual life-jackets must not be used in bow-loading boats, as they would impede the cox's exit in the case of a capsize.


Capsize is unlikely in a four or an eight, fairly likely in a pair, and should be treated as an occupational hazard in a single scull. In any case, the following instructions should be memorised and precautions taken.

In the event of a capsize, the crew and cox should stay with the boat; use it as a buoyancy aid, and swim with it to the bank so that you can get out.

If possible, empty the boat and row it back to the boathouse. Otherwise, secure the boat to the bank, then seek shelter and assistance. Scullers should make sure they keep a change of clothing at or near the boathouse.

Coxes and scullers should carry a thermal blanket in cold or windy weather. These only cost a few pounds, and are very compact. The club keeps stocks of these at the boathouses it uses, check with the equipment officer (Andy Nicol) if you can't find one.


Coxes should bring a first-aid kit to the boathouse for every outing, and should check the expiry date of the kit monthly. Any items used should be replaced. The club carries first-aid kits for this purpose.

Throw Lines

Coaches should carry a throw-line with them on every outing. The club carries throw-lines for this purpose.

Page last reviewed 13/10/2011 WMC

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Club - What it is and what we do


Chesterton Rowing Club is a small and friendly rowing club in Cambridge, UK.

We row on the river Cam, and enter local and regional competitions.

We put up three men's and two women's boats into the town bumps.

We enter most time trials and regattas on the river Cam, including Autumn Head, Winter Head, Christmas Head, Winter League, Nines Autumn Regatta.

We enter events around the Eastern region, including Bedford, Peterborough, Sudbury
We enter events on the Thames, a fairly serious undertaking, as the course is 4 1/4 miles long, and the river is tidal.

We train our own rowers from scratch using a Mondego tub pair and a Kayell training scull.

Beginners will be trained sufficiently in training boats to be able to row safely when put into an eight, and are often able to race within a few outings.

Outings are generally coached, even for beginners. This leads to rapid development and helps rowers avoid faults which can be difficult to overcome when habits have become ingrained.

Chesterton RC is affiliated to British Rowing and to the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association

The club is active socially as well as for rowing, and although we don't have our own boathouse or club house, Chesterton rowers can usually be found enjoying a drink together after outings.

Please see here for membership rates.

A brief history

Chesterton Rowing Club started off life as Pye Rowing Club, and has been around since the 1930s. It started off life as a company club, affiliated to the company sports and social club.

Pye Telecommunications was taken over by Philips in the 1970s, but the Pye name stayed, as Pye is a trademark of Philips.

The rowing club changed its name to Simoco in the late 1990s shortly after Philips sold its mobile radio business. The club became gradually less dependent on the shrinking number of company staff, and became increasingly independent, finally losing its affiliation to the Philips Sports and Social club when the latter was closed down during re-development of the company's St Andrews Road site.

The club continued to lease the St Andrews Road boathouse on a yearly basis until this was sold off in early 2000.

The club now uses rack space in several college boathouses and hires college boats when it requires additional capacity for races, especially the town bumps.

The club changed its name to Chesterton Rowing Club on 1st May 2008, finally reflecting its status as a fully independent club.


These are the contact details for the current year (2012-2013).

If you're not sure who to contact, the secretary is probably the best bet. If you're interested in joining as an experienced rower, contact the appropriate captain. If you're a novice and would like to try out rowing, please contact the "organiser of novices", Simon Emmings (simoooon(at)hotmail.com).

* Club Captain: Anne Roberts (anneroberts2020(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk)
* Men's Captains: William Connolley (wmconnolley(at)gmail.com) & Simon Emmings (simoooon(at)hotmail(dot)com)
* Women's Captain: Lorraine Turville (marion8(at)ntlworld(dot)com) / Meg Richards
* Secretary: Annie (annie.littlefoxes(at)btinternet(dot)com)
* Treasurer and Membership: Janice Day (janiceday(at)tesco(dot)net)
* Equipment Officer: Andy Southgate & David Crissall
* Webmaster: Ian Foster (alpine01(at)gmail(dot)com) & Paul Holland
* Kit Officer: Kate Winter
* Water Safety Advisor: Dave Richards
* Social Secretary: Luca Simonelli
* Race Secretary (Chestertonentries(at)gmail(dot)com): Meg Richards