Safety Program

The sport of rowing has two key ingredients: people and equipment. Our rules are intended to ensure the safety of all rowers, preserve the equipment, and offer a high quality rowing experience.  Everyone participating in KRA programs must obey a common set of rules and guidelines in order for all of us to achieve these objectives.


1. Are recommended to acquire the following qualifications:

a. Current First Aid/CPR certification (retraining required every two years)

b. USRA Level 1 certificate or equivalent

c. Boating Safety course certification (U S Power Squadron, USCG, WA State Parks, or the like)

2. Must hold a Safety Meeting for all rowers at the beginning of each year. The USRowing Safety video will be shown at this meeting. At this time the coach will also review the KRA specific safety rules established in this document.

3. Show all new KRA members the USRowing Safety video and educate them about the KRA specific safety rules established in this document.


1. Coxswains are responsible for the safety of the crew and the equipment once they have taken charge of the crew by calling “hands on” and until they have called “hands off” after the practice is completed.

2. Coxswains must carry a working flashlight and cell phone in a water proof case on all on-water practices. If possible, coxswains should also bring a coxswain’s kit on all on-water practices.

3. Coxswains must sign in and out of the KRA Rowing Logbook for every on-water practice.

4. Coxswains are responsible for putting bow lights on all shells that are going out in limited visibility conditions and removing them upon completion of the practice.

5. For safety reasons, inexperienced coxswains should not go out with inexperienced crews.

6. New KRA coxswains should familiarize themselves with rowing terms and KRA equipment before taking out a crew.

Member Rowers

1. Al l KRA Member Rowers must complete the following before using KRA-owned equipment:

a. View the USRA Safety Video “Ready All, Row

b. Sign and submit the KRA the USRA Liability Waiver

c. Provide Medical Emergency Contact Information

d. Submit either the KRA Swimming Attestation or the KRA Float Test Form

e. Take a KRA Learn to Row class or another rowing association/club’s Learn to Row class, or have high school, college, or other rowing association/club experience.

Non-Member Rowers

1. People with rowing experience who are not members of KRA may row as Guest Rowers up to three times.

2. Guest Rowers must have a KRA host who rows in the shell with them, or accompanies them on the safety launch.

3. No member shall take out Guest Rowers with them without knowing their skill level or interviewing the guest rower to ascertain their skill level in the presence of another member.

4. Guest Rowers should have prior rowing experience and skill, and should not be novice rowers.

5. All Guest Rowers must sign the KRA USRowing Liability Waiver prior to using KRA Equipment.

Rowing Shell Safety

1. On Land

a. Before getting into rowing shells, all rowers must know how to carry rowing shells from the slings to the water, set rowing shells in the water properly, and carry rowing shells back to slings to prevent damage to the equipment.

b. Coxswains must use the KRA Rowing Logbook to sign out all rowing shells and crews before crews take them out, and sign each shell and crew back in upon completion of the rowing practice. c. All rowing shells and oars must be washed after each time they are used on the water.

2. On the Water

a. Crews must:

i. Always be supervised from a motorized safety launch/boat that is capable of water rescue if there is an accident.

ii. Be supervised by a launch-to-crew ratio of no more than 1:3

iii. Remain within visual distance of the launch

b. Rowing shells may not enter the water or will return to the launch site immediately in the event of:

i. High winds/high waves/whitecaps

ii. Threat of electrical storm

iii. Severely restricted visibility (heavy fog, driving rain, darkness, etc.)

iv. Low tides that would prevent safe launching or landing. Coach or coxswain must check tide charts prior to entering the water.

c. Rowing shell lights (bow lights) must be used during dusk, dawn and hours of darkness. Rowing shell lights shall consist of at least one bright light affixed to the bow clip of the rowing shell.

d. Safety launches must always:

i. Only be operated by persons approved to do so by the Coaches or the KRA Board.

ii. Carry at least one working flashlight, first aid kit, air horn, a cell phone in a waterproof case, a tool box with spare rowing parts, tow line, hand bailer and paddle(s) for use in the event of mechanical problems.

iii. Launch drivers are responsible for ensuring that the launch contains the following items: 9 life jackets, 9 space blankets, 1 life jacket for each occupant of the coaching launch

Safety Considerations for Rowing on Liberty Bay

1. Every rower, coach, launch driver, and coxswain should be prepared for adverse weather conditions on Liberty Bay which may be cold, rainy and windy. Rowers should come to all water practices with adequate rowing clothing, drinking water, appropriate footwear, and spare warm, dry clothing.

2. All coaches, launch drivers, and coxswains are responsible to know the location of any hazards in Liberty Bay, including pilings, private docks, rocks, buoys and low tide hazards.

3. The Port of Poulsbo and Liberty Bay are often busy venues with many motorized and non-motorized water craft. Great care should be taken by all coaches and coxswains to be aware of other nearby boat traffic.

4. When launching from the Port of Poulsbo, crews should be cautious around blind corners created by Port docks and the Port breakwater.

5. Coaches, launch drivers, and coxswains should be alert for, and keep away from, water skiers and their tow boats.

6. Coaches, launch drivers, and coxswains should be aware that boats under wind power have right of way over rowing shells.

Emergency Conditions

1. Under no circumstances should a rower in the water leave his/her shell. Even if a swamped rowing shell is within a swimmable distance from the shore, the rower should not swim the shell to the shore. Rowers should not leave their flotation even if they consider themselves to be a strong swimmer.

2. All rowers must follow USRowing Safety Guidelines.

3. Flipping or Swamping

a. If the shell swamps or a rower flips into the water, the rower will be asked to wear a life jacket until they are pulled from the water by the safety launch.

b. Rowers should never try to swim to shore without the shell. If an individual rower flips out of a multi-person shell then the other crew members should stop the shell, undo an oar and gently push it towards the rower so they can use it as their flotation device. If possible, the rower should climb back into the shell, or re-enter the shell from the launch.

4. Swamped Shell Situations

a. A shell is swamped when the interior water reaches the gunwales. If a shell begins to swamp, the coxswain should immediate command “Weigh enough! Hold water!”. If rowers stay in the shell, the flotation ends may cause the shell to break apart.

b. Coxswain should direct rowers to untie, and by seat number rowers should carefully, but quickly, slip overboard.

c. If the shell is taking on excessive water, signal the launch and unload rowers by pairs – starting in the middle of the shell – as soon as possible in order to avoid damage to the shell. Pairs should form “buddies” and keep watch of each other. The coxswain should buddy with the stern pair.

d. If rescue is not imminent, take the following steps:

1) Remove oars and place them parallel to the shell. All persons should move to the two ends of the shell. It is dangerous to roll a shell when near riggers.

2) Then roll the boat to form a more stable flotation platform so rowers can either lie on top of the hull or buddies can hold onto each other across the hull.

3) Remember that body heat loss occurs 25 times faster in the water. Do not attempt to roll the boat if rescue is on the way.

e. A launch can shuttle rowers to the nearest shore. Be careful not to overload the launch.

f. When the boat has been brought to the shore, remove the oars. If the ends of the shell have filled with water, they must be drained before the shell can be removed from the water. Lift the shell carefully to avoid injury or damage. A shell full of water is very heavy, so try bailing first, then roll the boat slowly and lift it from the water.

5. Chain of Command / Order of Events

a. During rowing practices and in class or clinic situations, the Coach is in charge. All coxswains and rowers must follow the directions of the coach.

b. All rowers must follow the directions or calls of the coxswain.

c. If there is a health or safety emergency on the water, the Coach will use his or her judgment and call 911. Be sure to note your location and the location of the boat in trouble (Example: I’m calling from Liberty Bay. A four-oared shell has capsized. Five people are in the water. We are North of the Poulsbo Yacht Club.)

6. Documentation

a. All serious incidents (boat collision or medical first aid) must be documented and reported to the KRA Board as soon as possible.

b. In the event of medical treatment or first aid emergencies due to a rowing accident, the Coach or launch driver shall notify the Club President.

Equipment Maintenance

1. Properly functioning, well maintained equipment is essential to the safety of rowers.

2. As part of all training courses, and periodically during the course of the season, the Coach should remind rowers and coxswains of the following: If equipment is broken, do not use it. Stop rowing. Rowing with broken equipment will further damage the equipment.

3. Rowers are responsible as they enter the rowing shell to check bolts, riggers, top nuts, foot stretchers, etc. for proper function. They are encouraged to check periodically during practices or races that everything is in order.

4. Coxswains should note any damage or equipment issues in the KRA Rowing Logbook. The Coach is responsible for documenting & reporting any damages or non-functioning equipment to the Maintenance Committee.

5. All rowing shells and oars must be washed with fresh water after each use in salt water.

6. The Equipment and Maintenance Team has authority over all KRA equipment and may remove any equipment from service that they deem to be unsafe or in need of repair.

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