UHBC/ULBC Regattas – Chiswick Reach
This assessment is designed to cover foreseeable risks in the conduct of the UH Novice regatta, UH Winter regatta, and University of London Allom Cup. These are usually held in the late autumn or winter months, at the weekend, and last for one day only. The foreseeable risks are common to all three events. Boating for these events occurs mainly from University of London boathouse (ULBH), but one club boats from Tideway Scullers School boathouse (TSSBH) but crews may boat from Putney and elsewhere especially in the case of the Allom Cup.
The events are held in accordance with the principles set out in the CPRT. The events are marshalled in a similar fashion to the various British Rowing affiliated regattas on this stretch including Chiswick Amateur, Barnes & Mortlake and Borne and the risk assessments conducted by these regattas will have considerable overlap with the UH/UL events.
History of the UH/UL regattas.
These events have been held in this location for at least forty years. There have been no fatalities related to the conduct of these events known to the author in this period.
Established accident history (updated August 2016).
There have been three significant incidents since 2000:
2001: A race start in the ULBC Allom Cup collided with a crew crossing against the stream from ULBH resulting in significant injury. Issues were identified relating to the adequacy of look out on the part of the cox of the crew crossing and the failure to identify an obstruction on the part of the relevant marshal involved in starting the race.
2002: An eight capsized on the second pier of the railway bridge on a strong ebb tide whilst being marshalled in a UH regatta. There were no injuries but the boat was written off. Issues identified included the potential for foresight on the part of the relevant marshal which was not acted on.
2015: Incident report 5383: capsized eight on downriver-most wooden pile on Middlesex side above ULBH during flood racing session of novice regatta. Contributory factors included moderate S-SW tail wind, adequacy of launch-based finish marshal and the course of the two boats conflicting (one turning according to marshalling plan into ULBH and the other turning in the opposite direction to the Surrey in-shore zone in order to return to TSSC). Action plan discussed by UHBC committee:
1. Minimise use of flood racing pattern where-ever possible (ebb pattern predominates in these events anyway).
2. Start manager and other key race officials need to monitor wind conditions and stream strength during flood racing; caution with strong cross/tail winds which might drive crews onto the wooden piles or the pier beyond the finish.
3. In flood races always draw crews who will not be returning to ULBH following the race on the SURREY station so that they can access the Surrey in-shore zone with less potential for conflict (i.e. KCL always drawn on Surrey)
4. Clarify the flood navigation/marshalling plan to highlight the availability of the ‘figure of eight’ navigation around the UL buoy as a safe alternative to immediately turning into the Middlesex side at ULBH (but note the potential for conflict with other river users and the need for more turning which may not make this suitable for all crews)
5. Ensure that the tasking of the finish marshal is reviewed carefully, and consider whether placing a licenced umpire at this position would be appropriate when drawing up the duty roster.
Issues relating to watermanship:
There are often lapses in steering of boats from a variety of clubs against the stream along the Surrey side opposite ULBH as the river bends gently to Surrey, with the result that crews often swing into the centre of the steam when proceeding against an ebb tide despite the provisions of CPRT. This comment relates to all oared boats in the area.
There may be lapses in watermanship in competing crews either at the point of turning or during the race, with the possibility of crews departing from the course and potentially infringing the starboard hand rule. This is particularly likely in the novice event (but not exclusively so), with individual competitors with limited racing experience and the ever present risk of catching crabs and similar mishaps. However the event is run on the basis of providing such experience in a relatively safe environment and all officials need to be prepared to provide appropriate support.
Issues relating to inexperienced officials:
These events rely on a number of relatively inexperienced officials to assist the chief umpire. The number of races involved is usually quite small and usually the chief umpire is able to control the event from the start area.
The key race official positions will be filled by licenced umpires subject to their availability.
The UL based clubs provide the other officials. In general these will be nominated by club captains on the basis of previous experience and all officials in each event will have previous experience of the event either as a competitor or official.
The flood finish marshalling role is one which requires careful tasking given the potential difficulties in this area.
There is an officials’ briefing before each event which has the same format for each event in keeping with briefing prior to affiliated events.
Course of competitors
The 2015 incident has resulted in a review of the course to be followed by competitors in the event. In general, the course followed by boats on the ebb racing pattern is in keeping with the other affiliated regattas on this course and no changes are required. The flood racing pattern finish has been clarified to ensure that crews understand the danger of the fixed obstructions at the upriver end of the course. These events are different to the affiliated regattas on this course as the vast majority of crews will need to return to UL rather than MAA or Quintin (which requires turning to the Surrey ISZ as a matter of course)
Crews should ensure that they do not attempt to turn across each other at the end of the flood course; and that unless it is safe to turn immediately to Middlesex crews should proceed upriver in accordance with the (revised) course diagram. Crews should either perform a ‘figure of eight’ around the UL buoy or proceed upriver on the stream until they reach the gap between the Kew RZs. However if crews opt for the ‘figure of eight’ then they are in danger of potential conflict with other vessels in the fairway or the ISZ and this requires careful monitoring by the finish marshal, who should be suitably experienced.
Most likely severity of harm
Likelihood of harm
Very low risk
Very high risk
Note that the risk assessment matrix is a subjective tool and the individual cells are numbered for reference purposes only. Updated in accordance with suggested risk level estimator: Row Safe 2008 v1 section 1.2