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Water Safety Resources

Rowing NZ, domestic rowing associations and clubs, and all athletes, coxswains, coaches, administrators and supporters have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure our sport remains a safe activity for all involved. 

To assist members of the rowing community in managing safety responsibilities, Rowing NZ have created the following resources; 

  • Water Safety CodeA thorough explanation of all minimum standards for safe rowing activity, including the alternative arrangements surrounding the carriage and wearing of personal floatation devices (PFDs) on rowing skiffs, approved under the Maritime Transport Act. 
  • Audit Survey | You can use our online form or document  to conduct annual checks on safety procedures.
  • Water Safety Posters | A3 posters for display at rowing clubs - please contact info@rowingnz.kiwi to order free copies. 

To assist members of the rowing community in managing safety responsibilities, Rowing NZ have collated the following resources:

Reporting Serious Accidents or Incidents 

Serious rowing accidents or incidents need to be reported to Maritime NZ, Rowing NZ and the local Harbour Master. 

To report an accident or incident to Maritime NZ, visit their website. To determine whether you need to report an accident or incident to Maritime NZ, view their FAQs

To report an accident or incident to Rowing NZ, please email Mark Weatherall (GM Community & Development).

To report an accident or incident to your local Harbour Master, please check with your Club's Health & Safety Officer as they should have the contact details. 

The How

What your club needs to do...

  1. Make yourself familiar with the Water Safety Code.
  2. Determine who is the appropriate person to be your Club's Safety Officer.  Appoint that person and any assistants, then notify the Rowing NZ.
  3. With your Safety Officer and assistants prepare your Club's Risk Analysis and Management Plan. Review and perfect that plan.
  4. Formally adopt, and bring to the attention of all members of your Club.  Ensuring that those members understand both the plan, and the need to work within its parameters.
  5. Ensure all actions of the Club henceforth fit within the Plan and ensure all new members are made familiar with it.
  6. Annually, review and if necessary modify, the Plan, ensuring any changes are communicated to your members.

Club Safety Boat Operator Course for Coaches

* It is compulsory for all Coaches/Boat Drivers to do this course *

A practical on-water training course for rowing club coaches and safety boat operators.

Aim: To gain safety knowledge and proficiency in coach/safety boat operation, enabling better safety cover for rowers involved in rowing club activities and events.

Qualification: Club Safety Boat Operator Qualification (Endorsed by Rowing NZ).

Prerequisites: None. (Marine VHF Radio Operators Qualification and First Aid recommended. Powerboat Level Two recommended for craft powered by 25HP and above).

Modules: Preparation, boat checks & safety equipment, New Zealand law, Launching & retrieving, Boat handling, Swamped & inverted craft, Casualty rescue, Towing, End of day procedures.

Contact Coastguard Boating Education or free phone 0800 40 80 90.

Unsupported Rowing

If you are rowing unsupported (without a coach boat within 500m of your skiff), ensure you load your Floatation Belt on board before you head out.

Carrying a floatation belt is a requirement under Rowing's Exemption to Rule 91 of Maritime Law.  We need to ensure our sport follows this protocol so we can continue to be exempt from having to wear a lifejacket while rowing.

Safety Audit

Once a year, every rowing club should complete an annual Safety Audit to ensure the safety aspects in your club are checked regularly.  You might like to print this file and take it around the club with you, or you can do the online version.

Online Rowing Club Safety Responsibility Audit Survey

Safety Reminder for Rowing Regattas

Rowing New Zealand wishes to remind all of the rowing community to be safety conscious on the water at training but also at regattas.

Rowing New Zealand encourages all of the rowing community, including clubs, coaches, volunteers and rowers to ensure that safety is a top priority in our sport.  Rowing New Zealand expects all of the community to have high safety awareness during training and also during rowing regattas.

Rowing New Zealand would like to prompt everyone to review the Rowing New Zealand Water Safety Code and all water safety information in the Safety section of its website.

There have been a number of recent incidents which highlight the need to put out this friendly reminder to all of the rowing community.  We want to ensure our sport is safe and enjoyable for all.

If there are safety breaches or incidents, please inform Mark Weatherall as soon as possible.

We also would like to remind everyone that Rowing New Zealand rules were passed at the 2013 AGM which now means rowing clubs can face severe penalties and infringements which can be enforced by all regatta organisers if they decide the situation warrants it.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 2015

The Government passed a new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and this is now in force.  Worksafe NZ gives a summary of the key changes as follows:

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) shifts the focus from monitoring and recording health and safety incidents to proactively identifying and managing risks so everyone is safe and healthy.

This might not necessarily mean major changes to your day-to-day operations, but it’s the business’s duty to think about who may be affected by its business. This includes workers, contractors, customers and visitors.

The business will also need to engage workers in health and safety matters and implement effective participation practices to allow workers to contribute to health and safety on an ongoing basis.

All clubs should review their health and safety practices and consider whether your club is now classified as a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) and not a voluntary organisation.

If you require further information, please visit Worksafe NZ.