Safety for winter training

17th October, 2023

15 essential tips for staying safe:

  1. Mind those wooden steps and slippery grass. Winter weather can make them slippery. Exercise caution when boarding and disembarking from the boat; slow down the pace when walking with the boat.
  2. Wind and stream safety. In windy and fast-stream conditions, steer clear of turning near bridges or tight corners. Choose your turning points wisely, preferably not in the middle of a straight.
  3. High visibility is key. For our steadfast steerpersons, wearing high-visibility gear ensures you’re easily spotted, even on foggy and darker days.
  4. Daylight matters. Boats can be out on the water from 30 mins before sunrise until 30 mins after sunset. Before sunrise and after sunset a fixed white light must be attached as close to the bow as is practical on all boats including launches.
  5. Sun glare precautions. When the sun hangs low, steerspeople especially should shield your eyes with sunglasses or a visor for safer navigation.
  6. Docking and stream speed. Approach docking with the utmost care, taking into account the speed and direction of the stream. Especially in faster stream conditions, ensure your crew holds the boat away from the dock. Remind the relevant people on the corner before heading to the landing stage what you will be asking them to do.
  7. Safety first. Remind all crew members to stay switched on while docking, and emphasise the importance of bow seat in coxed boats during turns.
  8. Dress for success. Crews, layer up to stay warm at the start, with the cox guiding when it’s safe to de-layer. Always have dry kit on hand for potential cold and wet weather or in case of a capsize.
  9. Boating technique. Ensure the stern or fin enters the water first and is not damaged in the process (this is full crew responsibility).
  10. Water levels and footwear. Check water levels and equip yourself with wellies if needed for when steps have water on. Steerspeople should assess where the boat is put onto the water looking out for fins and rudders.
  11. Leaves, logs, debris. Winter sees more debris in the river, not all of it can be seen, avoid as much as you can and share information club-wide of fallen trees, logs etc.
  12. Emergency stops – Practice Makes Perfect. All crews should occasionally practice holding up the boat using the Minerva technique-press the spoon flat to the water, turn the blades backwards together – all this with intention and synchronised as a crew so the stop is straight.
  13. Warm up time. Arrive earlier to warm up on the ergs or allow time on the water to properly warm up and cool-down to prevent injuries, particularly during colder months, take note of crew age and injuries.
  14. Row responsibly. Coxes, coaches, and crews, collectively assess conditions. If they’re challenging, take into account your crew’s abilities and competency and consider your outing plan or erging if necessary.
  15. Politeness to other river users. We share the water with others, we are probably the biggest (widest) and fastest on the water and therefore the most greedy! We share the water, we don’t own it, be polite at all times to other users, fishing people, kayakers, canal boat owners, swimmers and so on.

Safety is our priority, always. With these tips in mind, we can continue to enjoy rowing while embracing the unique challenges and charms of the winter season. Stay safe and warm on the water!

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