Safety tends not to be a topic of much interest to most rowers. Most rowers have never been injured while rowing or involved in a serious accident. Rowing is a safe sport and provided that rowers, coaches, their clubs and (in the UK) Regional Rowing Councils foster a culture of safe behaviour, it should remain that way. For club rowers, that culture of safety means engaging with at least the following issues on every outing:
- River conditions. River levels and rates of flow can vary even on managed waterways. When carrying out a risk assessment before any outing on a faster than usual river, the relevant question is not ‘Could we row on that river?’ but ‘If we had an accident on that river, how confident are we that we could recover our boat and crew safely?’.
- Equipment checks. Most equipment ‘failures’ are actually the result of inadequate inspection and testing before boating. Discovering that a rudder isn’t working or having a swivel detach itself during an outing can be dangerous as well as inconvenient.
- People. An outing accompanied by a coach or just a bank rider is safer than an outing consisting of only rowers and a boat. It is safer still if the bank rider has a throwline and a mobile phone.
It is very much worth reviewing British Rowing’s Row Safe Guide:
The key message is that safety is not someone else’s problem. It is the responsibility of every club member and every rower.