Every cox or steersperson should perform a risk assessment before each outing, in conjunction with the coach if one is present. This does not need to take a long time or be very formal – if you are an experienced steersperson/cox you will probably find that you do all of these things instinctively.
A risk assessment should include consideration of the following:
- Boat checks
- Crew competence
- Water conditions
- Weather forecast (wind/rain/sun)
- Tidal conditions (height, ebb/flow)
- Steerer confidence
It is important to check over the boat you are planning to use every time you go out, whether it is a club boat or privately owned.
You should consider whether the boat is suitable for the crew (in terms of average crew weight, and, in the case of club boats, whether the boat has been reserved for a particular squad – for more details on this please click here). You should also confirm that the boat is river worthy (including checking that the bow ball is immovable, hull and canvases are intact, all buoyancy covers are closed, the steering is working and the rudder is straight, and heel restraints are fixed so as to be short enough to allow rower to kick out in the event of a capsize).
Water and weather conditions may require a certain level of crew competence, and may also affect the cox/steersperson’s confidence – for example, conditions that would be okay for a coxed boat might not be okay for a coxless one without direct launch supervision.
It is always the cox/steersperson’s call whether an outing goes ahead as planned, and it is important that they should not be put under any pressure to go out if they are not happy doing so. A good session on the ergo or in the weights room is far better than injured people and/or a broken boat!
The steerer should always check the tide tables and consider the weather forecast – a brisk breeze going in the same direction as the tide may cause unrowable conditions when the tide turns and the wind is against the tide.
Remember that the turn of the tide is dependant on land water, so it may not occur precisely when the tide tables indicate (it will normally be up to 15 minutes either side of the indicated time). Please also take extra care when “spring tides” are predicted (these occur when there is either a full or new moon, and will be both higher and lower than usual, with faster flowing water).
Next Safety guidance page: Rowing in the hours of darkness
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