Having separate safety cover in addition to that which can be provided by coaches would be a good idea. However, to work, an agreement would need to be reached between all the clubs/ users of a particular stretch of river or lake. Knowing how well the rowing community communicates and shares information I can see this as a stumbling block.
Where there is only one club using a particular stretch of river, that club can accept its responsibility to its members and try to find volunteers, in addition to the coaches to drive safety launches.
However, to use the Walton reach as an example, does a volunteer from Walton RC who has given up his time to cover a training period for his club juniors then have a duty of care to remain on the river because there is a junior crew from Weybridge also training on the same reach?
Could we end up with a situation where, at a particular pinch point, there are three of four launches, one form each club?
I can see that the regional Water safety advisor is going to have some work to do.
For myself, I shall take the matter up at National Coaches Committee meeting that takes place in ten days time to seek clarification as to what duty of care a coach might have to rowers who are not under his/her direct control.
> > > https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/myplaces?ll=51.400877,-0.413221&spn=0....
> > > Into these sluices yesterday went a schoolboy octuple.
> > > I've just been shown a photo, taken from the south (Surrey) bank, which
> > > shows only the bow, including bow's strokeside rigger and 1 scull,
> > > sticking out above the water at a jaunty 30 degrees to the water
> > > surface. The rest of the boat is submerged, rammed well into the 6th
> > > sluice aperture from the north bank.
> > > I understand, subject to correction, that one of the J14/15 boys in that
> > > boat was swept right through one of those sluices &, with extraordinary
> > > luck, survived. I don't know if he was in any way injured.
> > > I understand that the coaching launch was also involved and wrecked.
> > > Bits of boats were reported still drifting past a point 4km down river
> > > that same evening.
> > > The Thames was in spate on Thursday. While it is falling day by day, it
> > > is still moving swiftly this evening. I understand that the photo shown
> > > to me is in wider circulation. It indicates a very swift flow at that
> > > time, with a considerable drop in water level between the flow passing
> > > into the sluices & the relatively static waters of Sunbury lock cut.
> > > I understand the frustration of clubs & crews, the river having almost
> > > entirely unrowable in this area since before Christmas. Rowing is
> > > important to us all, but not important enough to take the chance of this
> > > kind of event.
> > > Carl
> > To add further relevant information:
> > 1. The water temperature in the relevant reach of the Thames today (less
> > than 48 hours after this accident), is 4.8C/40.6F
> > 2. The flow is sufficiently swift for club on the same stretch as our
> > workshops to have cancelled the Head race planned for this weekend.
> > I have discussed this incident with people who work on the river and I
> > would judge to be real watermen. They are shocked. As they and I
> > agree, water is inherently dangerous: what keeps you safe is a proper
> > understanding of those dangers, a grasp of what can happen if you get
> > something wrong, an appreciation of how water moves and moves everything
> > in & upon it, & a refusal to take unnecessary chances.
> > It seems a fair surmise that, starting Thursday evening, we could all
> > too easily have been inundated with news media reports & recriminations
> > over the deaths of 9 "tragic" youngsters. "How could this happen"
> > they'd have screamed at us (because that kind of noise pays their
> > wages). All too easily at present, is the only honest answer.
> > Fortunately no one died, so I rather fear that, led as ever by British
> > Rowing, the sport will yet again seek to gloss it over and to bury this
> > incident. As with a spate of recent *** incidents, including one
> > causing injury, on this stretch of the river
> > The point about near disasters is that we should try to learn from them.
> > Then maybe we won't repeat them. All recent history shows that in
> > rowing we prefer to blame the victims, hide the facts, to pretend that
> > what happened was an unpredictable "one-off" event which no one could
> > have anticipated, to "keep it all within the family", to attempt to
> > shoot the messenger &, worst of all, deliberately to avoid learning the
> > lessons so expensively provided.
> > Carl
> > --
> > Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
> > Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
> > Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
> > Find: tinyurl.com/2tqujf
> You may know Carl that this sluice is preceded by a smaller weir upstream, just down and across the river from Walton RC. So the stream is split between the 2 drops (and the small weir at Sunbury Lock that is dry most of the time).
> By way of further information, I understand that the EA had closed the smaller weir upstream of where the accident happened, so the vast bulk of the stream was going through the main sluice. I don't know whether or to what extent they had broadcast this fact, but this may well have contributed to the accident.
> However, this is not to say that this is in any way mitigating. The general consensus at Walton at the weekend was 'What the heck were J14s doing out in that stream?'.
> On a side note:
> We also had an interesting discussion about the role of launches. This crew had a coaching/safety launch, and St George's College have developed a habit of having a high ratio of launches/crew (to the detriment of other river users IMHO). However it is also a stretch of river that lends itself perfectly to coaching from the bank. We believe a better setup would be to have stationary launches positioned at regular intervals & known pinch points for safety purposes, with coaches on bikes using the towpath for crew instruction.
> I would be interested to hear from anyone who uses such a system.