Tuesday 13 October 2009

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

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