Guidance and Protocols for Club Reopening August 28th 2020

Following the UK government’s further relaxation of restrictions related to Covid-19, and British Rowing’s publication of ‘Safe Return to Rowing’ version 5.2, which was circulated on August 8th 2020, Minerva is now preparing for more of our members to return to the water, including larger crew boats.

We are now in Phase ‘E’ of BR’s phased return to rowing.

This means both junior and adult members who have been signed off as competent to scull to at least intermediate level have been able to return to the water. Adult members who are fully competent scullers may row unsupervised, intermediate scullers may row when supervised by a coach or another fully competent sculler. Juniors in small ‘bubble’ groups are being supervised by a coach and launch, as detailed in our junior framework. Novice scullers may also now go out on the water where they will be supervised by a coach from the landing stage. To date, post lockdown rowing at Minerva has been restricted to single sculls, or doubles and pairs.

As from Saturday, August 29th coxless and coxed fours and quads will also be able to return to the water, with crews from mixed households, provided appropriate risk mitigation measures have been put in place. These measures are outlined below.

BR has also already announced that as from Saturday August 29th eights and octuplets may also return to the water with crews from mixed households. At Minerva we will continue to review this option and will advise in due course when we are ready to allow the resumption of eights rowing.

Coaching of small groups of no more than 12, including coaches, may now take place.

As more members become eligible to row in shared equipment it is now even more critical that both the personal and equipment cleaning regimes and social distancing guidance outlined below are strictly adhered to by everyone, on every visit to the club. This still includes private boat owners, BUBC, GB Start and extends to those attending the club for meetings, maintenance or security reasons.

Please ensure you read this, and future updates before visiting the club and pay attention to the new signage that has been installed within the boatsheds for your safety.

It is the responsibility of all members to comply with the guidance outlined below. Failure to do so may be subject to disciplinary action and may result in suspension from all rowing activity.

Safety and Hazards

Members are responsible for their individual safety, whether using private or club boats. A launch will not always be present, as coaching and supervision will still be limited. Every member should make their own risk assessment based on river and weather conditions, their competency and experience. Bear in mind there are always new hazards on the river including a visible sand bank at Twerton Lock, falling trees, floating logs, overhanging foliage, members of the public jumping from bridges, paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and RIBs, more rental narrowboats and a makeshift swimming platform just downstream from Minerva. If you discover a new hazard you should report this immediately, so other members can be advised accordingly.

If you do not feel confident about returning to rowing after a long break, then you should not go on the water unsupervised. Anyone who has not yet been assessed by Minerva as fully competent to scull is being given the opportunity to book an assessment with one of our coaches. You should be able to remove a single from the rack and carry it to the stage on your own. If you require assistance, social distancing rules and the cleaning regime outlined below must be followed.

Kit bags

All members should ensure they keep a change of clothing and a towel, with them at all times, in case of capsize. We also strongly recommend that you also carry your own rigger jigger, a pen, a clean wash cloth, face mask, sanitising hand gel and wipes in your kit bag, to protect both yourself and other members and that you minimise contact with surfaces once inside the boatshed. You should arrive at the club wearing your rowing kit as changing rooms can only be accessed for emergencies.


Shower will be cordoned off and can only be used in emergencies. In the event of an emergency they should be run for a few minutes before use, to avoid the risk of Legionnaires disease. Please switch off isolating switches after use.

Toilet Facilities

Toilets should be used only when absolutely necessary. The doors to the changing rooms, disabled bathroom and facilities block will be wedged open, and will remain so until further notice to reduce surface contact and improve air flow.


Lockers in the changing rooms should not be used. If you bring a kit bag to the club, leave it by your boat rack whilst you are on the water. Do not leave it beside kit bags or personal effects of other members. The toilets and showers will continue to be cleaned on a weekly basis, but you should minimise contact with surfaces in these areas and use the soap, paper towels and sanitising gel provided to clean your hands.


The erg deck will continue to be cordoned off and should not be used. Pre and post outing warm-ups and stretches should happen outside the boatshed, or before you set off from home. Ergs, when they do return to the club, will only be available for outdoor use and will be subject to strict cleaning regimes.

Arnold Cooke Boatshed

This will be opened now that rowing in larger boats is permitted. This will also be subject to the same social distancing and hand hygiene regimes.

Social distancing

Distancing of two metres must be maintained, at all times, when off the water – in the boatsheds, when preparing or cleaning boats, on the steps to the river and on the landing stage. A maximum of two crews are allowed inside the boatshed at once, with a maximum of one crew, including the cox, per bay.

Face masks

When two metres cannot be maintained, all rowers are strongly advised to wear face masks inside the boatsheds and, for fours and quads, when moving between the boatsheds and the water until the boat is launched. Face masks will be provided in the boatshed. Different crew groups should also stay separate from each other.

Crew boats from mixed households

The normal distance between two rowers in a boat is over one metre. By following BR guidelines and the mitigating measures included within this document, risk of transmission should be reduced.

NB Not all crew members may be comfortable returning to rowing larger crew boats. Any crew boat returning to the water should be subject to all individuals concerned understanding the risks and agreeing to following the guidance outlined in this document.

Wherever possible the same group or ‘bubble’ crew of no more than six members should row together to minimise the number of close interactions. Wherever possible, crews should row using the same boat and equipment to minimise transmission. Sitting in or swapping between crews, for now, is not permitted.

When retrieving boats from the racks, the minimum number of people needed to safely lift the boat should be used. When launching, a two-metre distance should still be maintained, which may require slightly different carrying positions. You may wish to mark lifting positions on your chosen boat to keep this social distance. Rowers in larger crew boats are advised to wear a face mask during the launching process.

During the outing crews should aim to keep the maximum distance between rowers at all times by:

  • Rowing at full crew throughout the outing to avoid one rower rowing towards another sat at backstops
  • Taking a slow approach back into rowing and easing the crew up to pace to avoid anyone falling out of sync
  • Avoiding shouting to reduce the risk of droplet transmission
  • Using a face mask, although this is a personal choice, and will become less effective as protection against viral infection once wet


Coxes sit face to face in close proximity to stroke in stern loaders so there is increased risk of transmission between cox and rower. Coxes must therefore wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout an outing. Coxes may also choose to wear a face mask during the launch process.

In a stern loader coxes should wear both a face mask and eye protection. This could be goggles, sunglasses or a visor which will keep both eyes and face mask dry. The club will provide personal visors for all those who cox. They will also be in the boatshed.

In a bow loader coxes should also wear a face mask.

Cox boxes must be used in all coxed boats to avoid the need for shouting. To avoid or minimise sharing of equipment, club-owned and numbered cox boxes will be allocated to individuals who cox regularly at Minerva.

Where cox boxes are shared within crews who rotate coxing duties, the cox box must be cleaned and sanitised between outings and a record of who has shared that equipment kept.

Coxes must sanitise their hands before touching cox boxes, life jackets, or boats and again when they are put away. The microphone must be worn outside of the cox’s mask. If gloves are worn a clean pair should be worn for each outing. Gloves will also be available at the club.

The cox seat, steering wires, cox box and headset must be wiped with a sanitising wipe before and after each outing.

Coaches, if present, will be required to discuss and agree a safety plan with each cox and stroke and remind both that these guidelines have been devised to keep each other safe. If the cox or stroke feel it is unsafe at any point they will be supported by the coach and any changes needed made as quickly as possible.

Wherever possible, coxes should only cox the same crew. Where this is not possible, clubs may limit coxes to coxing one crew per day.

The Landing Stage

On the landing stage only three boats will be permitted at any time or a maximum of 12 individuals. Rowers returning to the club will have priority over those waiting to boat. The landing stage is still being repaired by our members and has been cordoned off with padlocked barriers to deter members of the public from using it. Please ensure that you lock the barriers immediately before you boat, for your booked session time, if you are the last crew to do so. The code for this padlock is available in the boatshed.

On the water

CRT recommend a distance of 10 metres is maintained from other river craft. Respect should be shown for all those who use or live by the river and those who access our site. At all times members should show consideration for other members of the club and the public and ensure their behaviour does not bring the club into disrepute.

Boat booking

Time slots of two hours must be booked in advance via our online booking system. This should include no more than 90 minutes on the water thus allowing 30 minutes for boat preparation and cleaning. For fairness, only one outing per day will be allowed for members using club boats. Private boats must also be booked via the online booking system. As from September 5th we will be reverting to first session beginning at 7am.

Please note that club boats such as Brutus, Juturna, Fontus, Liburna, Team Spirit, Boudicca and Helen Glover should not be re-rigged without the permission of your Club Captain. Please contact Andy Crawshaw before booking if you are unclear about the rigging for a certain boat, which will also be specified on the boat booking system.

Track and trace

It is critical that all boats, both private and club owned, BUBC and GB Start, sign in and out for every outing. A contact number for each crew must be provided for track and trace purposes in the event of anyone who has attended the club contracting coronavirus. For the time being we are not restricting the number of boats that can go out in each session, however we may introduce a cap if we find that overcrowding is occurring. Records of all crews who have been on the water will be held for a minimum of 21 days to assist with NHS Test and Trace if required.


For every outing, all members should adhere to the following sequence of activities on arrival, when moving in and out of the boatshed, when cleaning equipment, and on departure.


  • Unlock the side door if not already open. Sanitise your hands immediately with the antibacterial gel provided, sign out, and place your bag by your boat rack
  • Open the shutter door to the bay, if not already open. Take two trestles outside
  • Remove your boat from the rack quickly taking care not to touch other boats or surfaces
  • Take your blades outside and set up your boat
  • Ensure you have everything for your outing. Aim not to return once you have locked up
  • Close the shutter door when ready to leave. Sanitise your hands again. Lock the side door
  • Carry your boat and blades to the stage keeping a two metre distance from others on site
  • Boat quickly ensuring only two boats are on the stage at once. Give priority to returning boats


Each crew member is responsible for cleaning their section of the boat including all areas with which they have been in contact and should follow the cleaning regime outlined below:


  • On returning, place your boat on the same trestles you used to prepare your boat and place blades alongside.
  • Unlock the side door, if not already open. Sanitise your hands and sign in immediately.
  • Clean your boat and blades as follows:
    a) Using water and washing up liquid provided, wash the shell of your boat paying attention to areas you personally have touched with your hands or face. Clean wash cloths will be available for you to use, take home to launder and keep for your next outing.
    b) Clean riggers, gates, seats, footplates, hatch covers and runners with the sprays or wipes provided. Leave the spray or wipe solution in contact with these surfaces for 60 secs to ensure it is effective.
    c) Apply antibacterial spray provided to shoes
    d) Clean blade handles and looms with wipes or with spray and paper towels
    e) Return your boat to the rack taking care not to touch other boats or surfaces
    f) Clean your trestles where touched with wipes or spray and paper towels and return to the boatshed
    g) Return your blades to the rack
    h) Wipe any other surfaces you have touched and place used wipes or towels in the purple ‘no touch’ bin provided
  • Close the shutter doors and sanitise your hands again before leaving
  • Leave by the side door and lock up. Do not leave water bottles, kit bags or any personal items in the boatshed
  • Wash your hands as soon as you can or apply more gel before returning to your transport

Whilst in the boatshed, assume all shared surfaces including door handles, locks, switches, buckets, taps, door chains, tools and pens could be contaminated and therefore avoid or minimise contact. Get into the habit of sanitising with hand gel every time you go in and out of the side or shutter doors. These communal surfaces will be cleaned thoroughly once a week by our cleaner however, you should remain vigilant at all times. Act as if you have the virus and aim to protect both yourself and others.


Once you have finished your outing, thoroughly cleaned and returned all equipment to the boatshed, you should leave the site promptly. Congregating in groups anywhere inside the boatshed or outside the club is not permitted.


If you need to make minor running repairs and use club tools, then apply antibacterial gel and clean the tools before and after using with antibacterial wipes. Ideally bring your own tools.


If you discover that a boat is damaged and cannot be used, report the damage to Andy Wallis, and Andy Rogers who will remove it from the booking system, complete all necessary paperwork, and abandon your outing. Do not attempt a repair yourself. We expect club boats to be heavily used so it is critical that damage is reported promptly.

This guidance has been drafted to reduce risk to our members, as much as possible and notably when using shared equipment. It relies on every member adhering to the highest standards of personal hygiene, a scrupulous equipment cleaning regime, and maintaining social distancing. The guidance also applies to the GB Start squad and to BUBC members. If you feel you cannot adhere to any of this guidance, or feel that you could still be at risk, then please do not row.

As government and BR advice changes, there will be further updates and our protocols and guidance will change again. The committee reserves the right to close the club at any stage if the guidance and protocols outlined above are not followed by all club members. We will continue to communicate to you via both email newsletter and our member Facebook site. If you have any queries, please speak to Sue Shipley or Andy Wallis.

These are challenging times for everyone. For those able to return to rowing, please play your part and consider both your own safety and that of fellow Minerva members whenever you are at the club.

Finally – if you are exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus, or if anyone in your household is self-isolating, or exhibiting symptoms, stay at home.

Stay safe, stay alert and enjoy your return to rowing at Minerva!