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Water Safety in New Zealand Rowing

  • 01 Jul 20

Water safety in the sport of rowing in New Zealand is everyone’s responsibility. 

The Rowing Water Safety Code 2016 sets minimum standards for safe rowing operations. It also incorporates the alternative arrangements to the carriage and wearing of personal flotation devices (PFDs) on rowing skiffs approved under the Maritime Transport Act. 

As a sport we cannot afford to lose Maritime NZ’s approval of our Rowing Water Safety Code. 

Personal Flotation Devices / Life Jackets 

Maritime Rule 91.4: Personal flotation devices describes who must wear a PFD when on board a boat. According to the rule, people who are training or participating in an approved sporting event, where participants are supervised in accordance with the safety system of a national sporting organisation, are exempt from wearing a PFD.  Thereforerowers in New Zealand abiding by the Rowing Water Safety Code 2016 do not have to wear a PFD.

What’s the risk of not following the Rowing Water Safety Code?

If rowers in New Zealand do not follow the Rowing Water Safety Code 2016, all rowers in New Zealand risk losing Maritime NZ's exemption to the wearing of PFDs on rowing skiffs. 

All harbourmasters in New Zealand also have the authority to issue fines to those who are in breach of the Rowing Water Safety Code 2016

How do I comply with the Rowing Water Safety Code?

  • Read and understand the Water Safety Code. There are three key areas:
    • Club requirements – what each club must do. A ‘club’ in this case means a rowing association, school, club, masters, RPC or university programme.
    • Preparation to go rowing – what must happen each time someone goes on the water, and what must be done while on the water.
    • Safety Equipment – the equipment that must be carried while on the water by rowers and coach boats.
  • Your club safety officer should complete the Rowing Club Safety Responsibility Audit on the Rowing NZ website and remedy any areas that are identified as non-compliant. This should include checking that the safety equipment in the club is fit for purpose and that any safety information at the club is still accurate. 
  • Whether you are a rower or coxswain, before you take to the water check your boat to the same standard that a race official would at a regatta. In particular, check that there is a bow ball; that all shoes have quick release mechanisms and each heel is restrained independently; and that all hatch covers are in place.
  • If you are training unsupported, i.e. with no coach, or if your coach’s crews will be more than 500m apart, you must carry one flotation belt for each person in the boat.
  • If you are a coach, you must carry 12 mandatory items of safety equipment onboard. These are:
    • Waterproof communication (e.g. a cellphone in a water-tight bag)
    • Enough PFDs for your largest crew
    • Bailer, and for inflatable boats, a pump
    • Signalling device
    • Throw bag
    • First aid kit including a survival blanket
    • Knife
    • Paddle
    • Engine cut-out lanyard
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Flare, if you plan to be more than 500m offshore
    • Lights, if training in darkness - white on top, red port, green starboard 

The above is not an exhaustive list of what clubs must do. Full details for compliance can be found in the Rowing Water Safety Code 2016 here.

Where can I get help?

  • Rowing NZ’s website covers all safety requirements here
  • Contact Rowing NZ on info@rowingnz.kiwi
  • Your club’s safety officer
  • If you need specific local area details, contact your harbourmaster.