The regatta season is almost upon us. Racing is not everything but it is important (and fun), partly because it encourages more and more people to use their skiffs, and communities to travel in large numbers to meet other communities. There is no doubt that when your home town regatta is coming up, your skiff will be used by more clubmates more often than it is at any other time of the year. And we built these boats to get used, not just to look pretty.
We need to ensure that racing is fair, safe and enjoyable for all. With these objectives in mind one of the first acts of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was to draw up a set of Rules of Racing. The current set (2013 Edition) can be found on the Documents and Guidance tab of the website. Easy to find, but let me help you with a hyperlink. Please do take a few moments to read through the rules and ensure you understand them. They are there for the benefit of all, although umpires and coxes especially should not go on the water on regatta day unless they have formed a good understanding of them.
The rules are drafted to apply to any type of racing coastal rowing boat, not just the St Ayles skiff. They apply to all types of course, with specific provisions for single buoy turns and multi lane buoy turns. They regulate how to start a race, and how to decide who has won a race. They set out penalties for miscreants, although we hope these do not need to be applied. They even set out how a decision of an umpire can be reviewed, although we also hope that will not be required. They set out definitions of certain category of rower based on age and experience. Remember that age is age on the day of the regatta, and the cox must be over 16 but does not need to comply with the gender / age restriction of the rowers. You may also recall an earlier announcement with regard to gender. Please read the rules!
The purpose of this post at this time of year is to remind you of a few rules that you can deal with now in your preparations! Firstly there is a list of items which skiffs must carry for races. This is set out in rule 2.1:
“2.3 In addition to any requirements in their class rules, whenever on the water on a race day all racing craft shall carry the following equipment: (a) A waterproofed means of communicating with the shore (preferably a working hand held VHF radio, which failing a mobile phone with list of essential numbers for the event). (b) At least two means of efficiently bailing the boat. (c) Personal Flotation Devices for each crew member. These must be worn by all crew members at all times. (d) A length of rope of at least 14mm diameter and at least 8 meters in length, securely attached to a strong point in the bow of the boat and capable of being used to tow boat with crew. (e) An Anchor, together with a suitable chain and line of minimum 30 metres, giving a combined minimum weight of anchor, chain and line of 7kg, all as suitable for use in the conditions and area of use. (f) In addition it is recommended that boats carry a throwing rope; flares; space blanket for hypothermia, first aid kit, smoke signals, and spare wooly hat. “
Now might be a good time to check that your equipment carried complies with this rule, is in good condition and up to date.
Secondly have you got a skiff number ready for each of your boats? Rule 2.5 states: “If required to do so by race organisers, crews shall display a number in their bow reflecting the register number allocated by SCRA. The numerals shall be at least 20cm in height and displayed on a background of contrasting colour.” Remember that is the number issued by the SCRA when your skiff was launched, and recorded in the SCRA Register of Craft. (Not the kit number seen on an oval plaque on the ribs of more recent skiffs).
Thirdly please ensure your insurance is up to date. This is of course important for the protection of all club officers anyway, but it is a rule of racing that any skiff taking part must have at least third party cover, and race organisers must have public liability insurance in place.
Fourthly regatta organisers are required by the rules to have at least one dedicated safety launch and one umpire launch at events. It may be that sensible risk assessment will lead the organisers to have more safety boats available if they have a large number of skiffs on the water, or conditions are particularly challenging.
So the rules are there for your benefit. We have always aimed to keep them fairly simple and short, on the basis that they are thereby more likely to be read and understood by everyone, so please prove us right! That link again? Of course, just clickity click.