Shared Buoy Turns….. Rules and Etiquette Reminder

In SCRA we have adopted the international rule for dealing with priorities where more than one boat is turning round the same buoy.  The priority is fixed three boat lengths before the mark.

At 3 boat lengths, if there is any overlap between 2 crews, the inside crew (i.e. crew closest to the buoy when turning) has priority.  The outside crew must yield to the inner crew and not impede their progress.

At 3 boat lengths, if there is clear water (i.e. no overlap) between the 2 crews, the leading crew has priority. The chasing crew must yield to the leading crew and not impede their progress.

What happens after the three lengths to go mark does not alter the priority…  it is quite likely that as a lead boat with clear water slows to round the mark, a following boat may obtain an overlap, but as this happens after the 3 lengths to go mark it is irrelevant….  the leading boat still has right of way, and the following boat must keep clear.

Ideally an umpire boat will be stationed at around three lengths to the buoy on buoy turns to ensure correct priorities are followed.  However crews should understand the rule, and be able to carry it through with good grace without receiving instruction from an official.  Crews found to obstruct other crews holding priority maybe disqualified at the discretion of an umpire.




Remember that the rule cascades down the fleet, so it is possible that a boat, although leading going in to a turn may have to yield to four or five boats inside if it has not established clear water by the three lengths to go point. Illustrations by kind permission of Welsh Sea Rowing.

Crews or coxswains who attempt to intimidate other crews or use threatening or abusive language should be ashamed of themselves and are probably embarrassing their own club mates.  They may find themselves disqualified and not welcome at other regattas.    Anyone who is that desperate to win, should be applying themselves to pulling harder before and after the turn, rather than spoiling the day for others with aggression during the turn.

All coxes, rowers and umpires should familiarise themselves with the SCRA rules of racing which can be found here:

Congestion at a Turn; Photo by Steve Thomson
  1. #1 by Donna Martin on 3 July 2015 - 9:38 am

    Clear and simple explanation which can be adhered by all. So thank you. D Martin. Queensferry Rowing Club

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