Coastal Rowing Safety – capsizing

With winter approaching and solo (unaccompanied) rowing more prevalent in the off season it’s a good time to spark some thought around how safe you are out there.

This article concentrates on capsizing and lifejackets, as there has been considerable discussion in coastal rowing circles about this lately.

Water Safety is a big subject and it’s a warning and scary fact that we have just finished the worst summer for drownings in many years here in New Zealand.

coastal rowing turning, coastal singles race, buoy turn coastal

Coastal Rowing buoy turn

I have put together some images and links to a couple of short video clips to give some insight into the water safety issues of capsizing with rowing skiffs, in particular coastal rowing which usually happens in very challenging conditions as you can see.

With all the links hover your mouse on the link then press and hold the ctrl button down and left click on your mouse to open the link.

The first link below takes you to a quick video on how to turn your skiff up the right way and then try to get in from the High side or upwind side in the waves rather than the lower or “leeward side “The reason for including this is because you have a limited amount of attempts available to get back in before you are too tired so it’s a good hint to get on the High side. Also don’t forget a Coastal boat is higher out of the water than a fine boat.

Turning your boat over and getting back in on the upwind side in rough seas [short video]

The next video shows a clever rope with a collar attached [short video] to make it easier to grab your sculls when preparing to get back into your boat after a capsize. This really helps in a coastal boat because they are so wide. Clever and simple modification to assist with re gathering your sculls after a capsize

This video is about 16 minutes long but very very informative and a must watch for anyone intending to row unaccompanied (by a support/safety boat) regardless of whether you are into coastal rowing or flat water. So please watch it.

Rowing Life Jacket Capsize Review [Facebook video]

This clip is brief footage of the race around the island in Hong Kong harbour and just gives a little insight into how coastal sea conditions can just add that extra degree of danger. Hopefully having watched the previous video on putting a life jacket on and inflating it in flat clam conditions this should be sobering when considering whether you could do it in big seas.

Coastal Waters challenging conditions [short video] (why safety equipment matters)

Finally, the post below refers to the last Coastal World Champs and this link takes you to what happened. In every race the first leg started off a beach in a calm bay but the turn 1 buoy was out in a strong tidal stream and the competitors all struggled to steer upwind enough to clear the buoy causing multiple crashes and boat damage as everyone concertinered on the turn.

The comment about the number of times you can re attempt to get back in your boat is significant. If you have no experience of capsizing and getting back in you should not go rowing without a safety boat. The adrenaline rush from hitting the cold water after exercising hard will instantly disorientate you and unless you are prepared it could end very badly.

Hopefully this information is of some benefit and you can enjoy your rowing confident that in the event of a capsize it will just be an amusing story to share with friends afterwards!!