How to make rowing a dangerous sport


Rowing is a safe sport.

But a few people manage to bring dangers to sport that need not be there.

Hazard 1 - Rowing in cold conditions

In the UK the most obvious hazard is rowing in cold conditions when the water temperature is low.

It only takes a gate or rigger to break unexpectedly while out sculling (it has happened to me on a summer's day) and you end up in the water.

If the water is very cold then the shock can lead to the rower taking a breath in which might include water.

In very cold conditions the muscles can seize up after about 3 minutes in the water and "swim failure" can occur.

Reference case: Rowers in Canada in 4 degrees C water.

Hazard 2 - Rowing in the dark

A night time row sounds great.

The only thing is that if your blade hits a big log you might be suddenly swimming in the dark.

Reference case: Maidenhead Rowing Club captain sculling at night (long time ago).

Hazard 3 - A Novice Coach coaching a Novice Sculler in cold weather or high stream

A Novice coach is unlikely to be in a launch.

Instead the enthusiasm comes from the bank along with bicycle.

If the Novice sculler gets into trouble especially in cold weather or high stream what can happen next?

As the Novice coach won't have a throw line on him, a line won't be an option.

Reference case: Reading Rowing Club.

Hazard 4 - Crews training on water they are not familiar with and without clear separation of lanes

Rowing in unfamiliar conditions presents a big challenge particularly for crews concentrating on speed rather than safety.

Reference case: Jack Beaumont being speared by his own GB rowing team.

Hazard 5 - Rowing in the fog

So tempting to go out because after all its daytime. No, sorry, its ergo time.

Hazard 6 - Failing to check and maintain equipment

Heel restraints are checked at a regatta and this is a good thing.
If a boat turns over and you can't get your feet out then it will take longer to get out of the water.

Hazard 7 - Rowing in boats without compartments

Rowing compartments have been introduced for some years to prevent boats from sinking.
It is recommended to row in boats that have the separate compartments

Hazard 8 - Rowers who can't swim and haven't done a capsize drill

When the new rower is flailing in the water is not a good time to find out he cannot swim.

Also if a sculler has not done a capsize drill that means there will be a shock element when the first fall in occurs.

Hazard 9 - Rowing drunk or under the influence of drugs

It was a one off at school - one of the J15 rowers was drunk and we school boys we all thought it was a great hoot.

(The adult coach didn't notice).

He was fine, but that is a way to up the risk with rowing.


This page was created due to some rather reckless coaching I saw one day.

The information on this page is not intended to replace the safety guidance learnt on a structured Rowing coaching course.

Page created on 3rd February 2017