Dear <<First Name>>,
For some time members have expressed frustration at being prevented from boating when other water sports clubs are seen to be on the water.
For the last year senior members have been collecting data relating to flow, river height, EA boards, etc. in order to provide context to a revision of the Club's guidelines.
During Lockdown #2 I and my Senior Management Team have prepared a new set of guidelines taking into account comments from experienced members of the club. The 1st December 2020 guidelines, which were approved at a special meeting of the Committee on 30th November 2020, are to be trialled for two active months after which they will be reviewed again in the light of actual use. Our Insurers are content with the revision and our British Rowing Regional Safety Advisor has commented that it is evident that we have taken a great deal of care over the matter.
Members should particularly note the caveat that these are maximum limits and do not imply that it's safe for everyone to boat up to the parameters given. It's up to all members of a crew, whether a single or eight, to be happy with their ability, and the competency of their companions if appropriate, to handle any conditions they may find on the river, including around bridges, weirs, barges or other river craft. The decision of the Risk Assessor or Coach is final.
Previous brave attempts to 'digitise' the effect of the sluices on the weir pool have prevented those who would have been able to manage a careful navigation from so doing. We are now saying that you should look at it and make your own judgement based on advice contained in the guidelines. Certainly an active weir pool may concern those of a nervous disposition, or who lack experience or strength, and they may feel they don't wish to boat, in which case their decision is be respected. You should not attempt passage unless you have been shown how to do it, perhaps as part of an experienced crew or with launch accompaniment.
Some members may recall we used to wade through standing water on the concrete shelf to reach the pontoon, and go for a good solid outing; others may also remember that small boats were sometimes carried around an errant weir pool to boat safely downstream of it. Both these situations are addressed in this revision.
You should also be aware that the EA have changed the way they work the boards so that the river is now some 6 inches higher in any given board state than it was a couple of years ago. Thus what would have been a yellow board situation is now red in order to assist boaters by keeping more water under their keel. The SMT felt that this change reduces the ability to rely on the EA boards as a formal arbiter of safety and have developed the proposed code to provide a sensible balance between the desire to boat and safety restrictions.
Members are welcome to comment on it, but only, please, after having actually used in earnest the revised system.
Thank you, and be safe.