The safety of our members on and off the water is our first and highest priority at WLARC. Please make sure you are familiar with the navigation rules and the numerous safety measures highlighted in the links and information below.


You can find our Water Safety Policy below. Included is a copy of our latest British Rowing Safety Audit.


For more information about about the WLARC Regatta Safety Plan (including Regatta risk assessment) and Child Welfare Policy & Plan please visit the Regatta Safety and Welfare Pages.


Read on for more information on the Weybridge and Walton stretch of the River Thames, to check the river conditions (Sunbury Lock to Molesey Lock) and notices sections of the Environment Agency website



Risk Management


Rowing and sculling are safe sports but as with all sporting activity, there are risks to be considered. This document will make you aware of the risks you need to consider and the rules in place to reduce them, but safe boating starts with you.


  • All club members have individual responsibility for their own well-being and that of fellow club members


  • The Water Safety Advisor (WSA), along with the captain and coaches, has a duty of care for all members and their advice should be heeded


  • By following the advice and asking yourself if you are safe to boat, you will help us keep WLARC a safe rowing club.


  • All club members have a responsibility to report any accidents, incidents or near misses in the incident book or to the WSA. The WSA will then report these using the online form to British Rowing (BR). The WSA will review these monthly and may, as a result, propose to the committee an amendment to any risk assessments, the water safety policy or current practices within the club to ensure the safety of the members and other river users in conjunction with the regional WSA.


The factors effecting safe rowing are grouped into four sections.


  1. Health – am I fit to boat? Do you feel well and are you in good medical health?
  2. Skills – do you have the necessary skills and ability to have a safe outing? Do you need to consider the conditions? Have you completed your swim test and capsize drill?
  3. Weather conditions – are there extremes of weather to consider? Is the water current fast or water level high?
  4. Equipment – have you checked your boat to ensure it is in good working order? Do you have all the equipment you require?



Before boating you, and your coach(es) need to consider:

  • Am I / is my crew feeling well?
  • Are there any injuries to consider?
  • Are there any concerns with eyesight or hearing?
  • Am I / is my crew hydrated and warmed up?
  • Has any necessary medication been taken?
  • Is my or my crews judgment impaired in any way (lack of sleep/ alcohol /drugs)?
  • Has adequate water/juice been brought in an appropriate container for the outing?
  • Are hands clean after contact with river water (handwash provided)


All members will be encouraged to wear appropriate clothing and protection for the conditions:

  • Thin layers
  • No pockets
  • Waterproof
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses


First Aid:

  • Coaches and WSA to be first aid trained and a list of first-aid trained members to be recorded and up-to-date.
  • First aid kit maintained and membership aware of its location in the boathouse (cupboard under bench currently, stocks for replenishing upstairs).
  • First aid kit to be carried on safety/coaching launches.
  • Coaches and WSA to be trained in the treatment of sunstroke, exhaustion, hypothermia.
  • Emergency contact numbers prominently displayed in boathouse.


Cold water immersion and hypothermia:

  • If a capsize occurs it is vital you get out of the water as soon as possible.
  • Adopt the one degree to one minute rule when assessing your course of action. If you feel able, re-right your boat and get back in to row and return to the club immediately. If this is not possible, or you cannot do so immediately, follow the points below:
  • Stay with the boat
  • Get on top of the boat and attract attention immediately
  • Keep arms and knees tucked into the body if you have to remain in the water
  • Stay calm and breathe deeply
  • Do not waste energy trying to right the boat
  • Do not swim away from the boat as your swimming ability in cold water is dramatically reduced
  • Know the emergency procedure to be able to help effectively if you see a capsize
  • Report and review all capsize and cold water/hypothermia incidents using the online system and associated risk assessments


2. Skills

Before boating please ask yourself and coaches to consider:

  • The boat selection: determine it in conjunction with the authorised personal completing the conditions risk assessment
  • Level of experience and confidence
  • Stamina and length of outing
  • Steering abilities
  • Support available – coach waterborne or on the bank
  • Your understanding of all the commands is in line with the rest of your crew
  • Is each crew and boat documented on the white board? Remember to remove names from the board on return.


Steering and navigation:


  • All members should be familiar with the layout of our stretch of water (navigation and Walton Bridge pictures available in the boathouse).
  • Direction of travel and orientation relative to bank.
  • Convention on navigation around D’Oyle Carte Island.
  • Location of natural hazards.
  • Safe areas for stopping / turning.
  • Safe places to exit the river in an emergency.
  • Ensure you stay tucked in to the bank especially when being overtaken.
  • Observe the new Walton Bridge safety position when steering.
  • Avoid turning close to bridges. The steerer should have a clear view of the river in both directions before a turn is attempted.
  • Only stop in Desborough cut when specifically instructed to do so or when no other users of the river will be affected.
  • New members to be introduced to these principles from their initial training by experienced members with whom they are boating or by their coach.
  • All members to be encouraged to learn to steer boats at the discretion of the coaches, bearing in mind current risk assessment and river traffic.


Swimming and capsize training:

  • All members must be able to:
  • Swim 50 metres in their kit
  • Swim five metres underwater
  • Tread water for two minutes.


  • Swimming ability must be OBSERVED and confirmed at least biennially and records maintained.
  • All members must attend a biennial swim test and capsize drill as part of their routine training and records maintained.
  • Any members not able to complete this training MUST wear a personal floatation device whilst on an outing.


3. Weather conditions

Assessed as part of the Conditions Risk Assessment carried out prior to every outing or at 2 hour intervals if staggered outings are occurring.


High wind (in excess of 15mph)

  • No singles.
  • Conditions may preclude all boating or limit outing to the confines of the Desborough Cut. Coaches to assess and establish beginners groups 1 and 2 and juniors strength and stamina and consider rowing technique.



  • Monitor at landing stage and at the point of Desborough Island – no rowing if the opposite bank is not visible.
  • In low light/visibility conditions, HIGH VISIBILITY VESTS MUST BE WORN by cox, bow, bow steer and singles.


Boating in darkness

  • Rowing or sculling in the dark or in poor visibility is dangerous and is not to be encouraged.
  • If crews wish to boat in darkness they MUST adhere to the following safety requirements:


  • They must have lights fixed on the boat prior to leaving the landing stage. Lights must be fixed to the bow and stern of the boat using velcro or an attachment designed for the purpose, and NEVER to the person or riggers as they may be obscured when bending or turning. Lights must be white and visible from 360m i.e. 180m at bow and 180m at stern as required by COLREG (Rule 25). The light must be a continuous light (not flashing), Halogen/Krypton and ordinary bike lights, which comply with BS 6102 are recommended. It is the responsibility of the individual members/crew to provide the appropriate lights to comply with the required standard and to ensure they are sufficiently charged for the entire outing. Should a light fail, then the remaining light should be mounted on the bows of the boat and you should return to the club house immediately. Rechargeable cells should only be used with care as they are liable to expire without warning. They should be completely discharged and recharged before each outing.
  • High visibility clothing must be worn by the bow crew member.
  • All crews boating in darkness without a cox, MUST be accompanied by either a launch fitted with the required lights or a club member on the bank with a bicycle, lights and throw line bag.
  • You/Your crew MUST inform the captain, a coach and the safety advisor prior to boating so light checks can be carried out. The coach, captain or safety advisor will the final say to boating under these conditions following the conditions risk assessment and experience of the club members.


Heavy precipitation

  • may cause low visibility and above precautions must then be observed.


Extreme temperature

  • Ensure all crews have suitable clothing, thin layers easy to take on and off. Very low temperatures may result in freezing of the water. Freezing occurs from edges towards the middle. No rowing in severe ice.


Cold water immersion and Hypothermia

  • Can cause drowning. Please refer to Row Safe guide 1.8 for further details and actions required. No beginners group 1 and 2 or juniors when water temperature is below 3 degrees celsius.


High temperatures

  • May result in dehydration and sun stroke. Ensure all crews have water bottles and sunscreen. Thin light weight clothing should be worn to prevent sun burn as the water reflects the sun’s rays.


Thunder and lightning

  • NO ROWING until 20 minutes clear of storm conditions. If lightning is seen during an outing and thunder is a count of 10 seconds away or less, return to the club or nearest landing stage immediately and seek shelter off the water. Do not return to the outing until 20 minutes clear.


Stream and water level

  • Assessed as part of the Conditions Risk Assessment
  • Water flow – consult EA warnings if any and Telemetry readings.
  • Red boards – NO ROWING
  • Yellow boards – detailed risk assessment prior to any decision
  • “Stream increasing” means a potential for problems when landing.
  • Consider Telemetry readings after a period of Yellow boards to give an indication of persisting flow rate (low to normal – 12-50 cubic meter per second, boards tend to appear around 80-90+ cubic meter per second. Very high – over 200 cubic meter per second)


Specific details:

  • Yellow boards – Stream increasing.
  • When these conditions apply, the Environmental Agency advise that no unpowered boats should go out so all decisions must be made with extreme caution. No beginners group 1 or 2 can boat. No single sculls can boat unless accompanied by a safety/coaching launch. All other crews strength and stamina must be assessed on an individual basis by authorised personnel. Juniors must be assessed on an individual basis by the junior coaches. Extreme caution must be considered when turning, stopping and steering. Only experienced coxes or steerers may take control of crews. Red boards may be applied at any time and crews must then return to the club once these conditions are known.
  • If boating occurs from the slip way due to the bottom of the landing stage being covered by the water level, a short outing no further than cowey sale should be considered to endure safe landing is possible upon return.


  • Yellow boards – stream decreasing.
  • When these conditions apply, the environment agency advise that no unpowered boats should go out so all decisions must be made with extreme caution. No beginners groups 1 and 2 can boat. Single sculls may be permitted to boat when the club member has previously demonstrated the ability to row in a single scull from Walton to The Canoe Club without stopping and with medium pressure. This demonstrates a suitable level of fitness and stamina to cope with a strong stream possibility over distance. The club member has a minimum of 1 year’s membership and rowing experience. The club member completes their own risk assessment of the conditions and their ability specifically for that outing (see yellow boards stream decreasing risk assessment)
  • The club member considers the advice of the coaches and captain leading the session with regards to their individual ability to boat on yellow boards stream decreasing.
  • Juniors must be assessed on an individual basis by the junior coaches. All crew’s strength and stamina must be assessed on an individual basis by authorised personnel. Only experienced coxes and steerers may take control of crews.


  • Water levels
  • When the water level covers the bottom of the landing stage, boating may be possible from the slipway.
  • If the water level is over the slip way no boating
  • The pool below the weir is 60 feet deep normally. When levels are high, turbulence and whirlpools make boating too dangerous.


Natural Hazards

  • AVOID:
  • Weir pools
  • Pillars on each side of both cut bridges
  • Pillars at Cowey Sale
  • Sunbury weir
  • Tumbling Bay weir
  • Other water users


  • Be vigilant and aware


  • Do not stop close to a known hazard


4. Equipment

All equipment, boats and blades must be checked before each outing for damage. Any damage found must be recorded on the equipment board and removed from use until repaired and fit for use.


Boats and Blades

  • All boats to be checked both prior to and after every outing:
  • Bow ball – secure
  • Heel ties – effective level
  • Hatch covers –secure
  • Runners – correctly positioned and screws present
  • Seat – properly engaged
  • Footplate – secure and all screws present
  • Riggers – top and bottom nuts
  • Rudder (if any) functional
  • Fin straight
  • Hull damage


Training in equipment set-up and maintenance to be carried out with all members annually and recorded


Safety Aids

  • All safety equipment to be stored in the boathouse and be readily accessible at all times. Written procedures for the use of safety aids and instructions can be found in the equipment cupboard. This must be read and understood prior to any member using a safety aid.


  • Personal floatation devices:
  • Must carry the national EN (European Standard) number and carry the CE mark of approval.
  • Must be checked every 3 months by the WSA to ensure webbing, stitching, buckles and zips are in good working order, cylinders are free from corrosion and screwed up tightly, any automatic inflation cartridges have not been fired, inflation bladder is free from leaks (inflate using hand pump for 24 hours and check pressure is maintained) and recorded in the maintenance log.
  • To be worn by all coxes.
  • To be worn by any member who has not been observed completing the swim test criteria.
  • To be worn by all launch drivers and passengers.
  • To be checked for wear and tear before each use.
  • To be properly adjusted to fit the individual.


  • Throw lines:
  • To be carried at all times by coaches on the bank.
  • To be carried at all times on safety/coaching launch.
  • All members to be trained in effective use and stowing of throw lines.
  • Annual training and practice in use of throw lines must be carried out and recorded.


  • Safety bag:
  • To be carried at all times on safety/coaching launch.
  • To contain first aid kit, thermal blankets and a knife.


  • Safety and Coaching Launches:
  • To be available for use at discretion of the Water Safety Advisor, Captain and Coaches
  • To be crewed by trained personnel.
  • All crew to wear a personal flotation device.
  • Launch driver MUST use the kill cord correctly at all times



  • Incident Reporting (all instances of capsize/collision/swamping)
  • All incidents to be reported to WSA
  • Name, date and time
  • Nature and cause of incident
  • Boat involved
  • Other club / craft involved
  • Injury if any
  • Damage if any
  • These data are then passed to British Rowing for monitoring purposes


Safety Auditing

  • Safety Audit to be completed annually by WSA and submitted
  • Any actions arising to be completed in a timely manner


British Rowing Wafer Safty Audit Report for WLARC:




WLARC Boat House

Thames Tow Path

Walton Lane



KT13 8LU







WLARC is situated in a lovely, and easily accessible, location close to Weybridge centre with ample free parking.


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For river conditions and stream warnings, check the environment agency website.



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