Course maps - Bumps

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Risk assessment - coronavirus


Safety documents - Bumps


UH Bumps: Risk assessment



The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the competition organisation and planning.

The competition is being run in accordance with the current British Rowing Covid-19 guidelines 

The competition has prepared a detailed coronavirus risk assessmentwhich is shown separately, and summarised below.

Key risk  Measured variable Risk level Risk status Mitigation
Transmission of coronavirus infection (and similar virus infection) Illness due to coronavirus infection transmission associated with the competition Coronavirus alert levels 1,2              BR rowing level 1 Green Follow current British Rowing guidelines
  Adhere to UK Government legislation 
UK Coronavirus alert level Coronavirus alert level 3   Brrowing level 2 Yellow  
  Coronavirus alert level 4 Amber Follow British Rowing guidelines
BR rowing level   Adhere to UK Government legislation
  BR rowing level 3 Consider cancellation of race if deteriorating local or national trend in community prevalence and impact
  Coronavirus alert level 5 Red Cancel race
  Lockdown with travel restriction
  BR rowing level 4/5

Event history

1991 – Collision involving an VIII from the Royal Free; severe injury to one crew member leading to helicopter evacuation and emergency thoracotomy. This accident occurred due to lack of organisation of boat flow in the marshalling area. Subsequent to this, the current chief umpire has largely been responsible for instituting the current marshalling system, reinforced by the PLA (Notice to Mariners).

1992 – 1996: no serious accidents but no accurate records;

(1997 – date: these races have been supervised by the current chief umpire.)

1997: no accidents;

1998: collision between two VIIIs in the marshalling area – failure of cox to keep adequate lookout – no injury;

1999: no accidents;

2000: near miss where VIII from another club ignored clear warnings and proceeded to cross the river against advice at about 30 seconds before the start;

2001: no accidents;

2002: no accidents;

2003: VIII steered into the PLA moorings as a result of bump; superficial injury to thorax in bow oarswoman; initially appeared more sinister and therefore evacuated by LAS from ULBH. Minor injury only. Need to highlight that losing cox must instruct his crew to pull away from bumps promptly particularly where river narrowed by obstruction or natural feature (PLA moorings, Brentford Ait, Oliver’s Eyot)

2004: near miss where cox steered boat in front of oncoming motor vessel (slow moving); to highlight need not to cross in front of any motor boat at 2005 coxswains’ meeting.

2005: Incident UH05-1; Coxswain sustained back injury (blunt musculo-skeletal) as a result of failing to acknowledge an inevitable bump; need to acknowledge early and avoid any physical contact to be stressed at 2006 races. Ongoing need to ensure adequacy of bowballs. Incident UH05-02; ladies’ crews drifted too far onto the Surrey side when stationary just after the finish. Need to ensure finish marshalling clearly identified to coxes in 2006 races, ensure launch 6 on correct station to ensure adherence to rules.

2006: no accidents - incident UH06-1 - marshalling launch overturned doing tight circle in shallow water - no injury and all equipment retrieved safely.

2007: Incident UH07-3 – BL1 staker hit in the back by a backstay of the following RUMS boat. Going into the water further than the waist will be discouraged. UH07-2 – Bow section of boat damaged following an early bump. Emphasis made on aiming for an off-centre target on the boat ahead. Incident UH07-4 – Near miss when crew went across the course of the pleasure cruiser. It has been made clear that this wasn’t appropriate and is potentially very dangerous.

2008: Incident UH08-3 – GKT staker hit by blade, minor injury.

2009: No incidents.

Incident between RVC VIII and MV Henley during marshalling. A RVC VIII proceeded upriver in the 2010: Surrey inshore zone up to Kew Pier on the Surrey side of MV Henley. The boat stopped, and then the cox believed that the master of MV Henley had indicated by a hand gesture that the RVC VIII should proceed through the gap between MV Henley and the pier. As the RVC VIII pulled into the gap, the stream pushed the RVC VIII against the hull of MV Henley such that the blade tips scraped against MV Henley. The RVC VIII managed to pull away and there was no damage to either boat. British Rowing Incident Report ID 5309. In the coxes briefing in future it will be advised that coxes should not attempt to manoeuvre between class V vessels and Kew Pier under any circumstances, coxes should WAIT and proceed around the class V vessel on the fairway side, and anticipate that this manoeuvre may well pull the oared boat well into the stream. In order to reduce the impact of this pull round, coxes need to start the overtaking manoeuvre well in advance of the pier (i.e. they need to stop well downstream of it). In the marshals meeting it will be made clear that waterborne marshal 6 need to maintain vigilance and give explicit instructions to stop crews well in advance of the pier.

2011: No incidents

2012: No incidents

2013: No incidents

2014: Incident following racing where a rower struck his hand on the side of the boat and had a piercing injury to the palm from one of the bolts on the rigger. Safety launch got rower back to shore for first aid treatment. He made his way to hospital and there was no need for follow-up.

2015: Concerns regarding apparent late concession of bump between first two boats in Ladies’ division just after Kew Road Bridge and some minor boat damage. Need for early concession highlighted in instructions – emphasis on ‘two canvas’ rule – a bump is inevitable if there is overlap of more than a canvas through the stroke cycle and there is less than a canvas width between the two boats.
2016: No incidents.
2017: No incidents.
2018: No incidents.
2019: No incidents.
2020: No race (coronavirus pandemic)
2021: Race on single day (restriction due to coronavirus).

Key risks and mitigation process

The following table outlines the key risks:

Key risk (reference) Measured variable Risk level Risk rating Mitigation Responsibility
Impact of COVID19 (see separate table) Impact on individual, community and organisation Medium risk Amber Cancellation or curtailment UHBC
Increased fluvial flow (8) PLA fluvial flow flag Green flag Green Nil Nil
Yellow flag Amber Consider:
  1. exclusion of novice 8o and any 4+s
  2. change in time of racing if possible to later in ebb or after low water
  1. CU
  2. UHBC committee
(aim for decision > 24 hours prior to race time)
Red flag Red
  1. Cancel or defer race to another date
  2. Consider change in time of marshalling and racing if possible to follow low water; only senior and intermediate crews
1.  CU
2.  UHBC committee
(aim for decision > 24 hours prior to race time)
High wind speeds (9) Forecasted wind direction and speed Forecast Mean < 15mph or
Gusts < 25mph
Green Course inspection by CU prior to race CU
Forecast Mean 16-20mph or
Gusts 25-35mph (especially easterly at Brentford Lock or southerly alongside Isleworth Ait)
Amber Decision may need to be made on race day following high water and may need to be based on course inspection and review of actual wind speeds
  1. Cancel or defer race to another date
  2. Shortening of course to finish at ULBH (if strong SE gusts)
  3. Shortening of course to start alongside Brentford Ait (if strong easterly gusts)
  4. Combination of the above
(see appendix 11)
UHBC Committee (decision may need to be made on race day)
Forecast Mean > 20mph or
Gusts > 35mph
Red Decision may need to be made on race day following high water and may need to be based on course inspection and review of actual wind direction and speeds (note that forecast may > actual gust speeds)
  1. Cancel or defer race to another date
  2. Other options shown in ‘amber’ risk rating but only if actual gust speed appears < 35mph and stable direction
UHBC Committee (decision may need to be made on race day)

Risk Assessment Matrix1

Most likely severity of harm
Likelihood of harm
Slight harm
Moderate harm Extreme harm
Very unlikely
Very low risk
Low risk
Low risk
Low risk
Medium risk
Medium risk
Medium risk
Medium risk
High risk
Very likely
Medium risk
High risk
Very high risk



Updated in accordance with suggested risk level estimator: Row Safe 2008 v1 section 1.2

Note that the risk assessment matrix is a subjective tool and the individual cells are numbered for reference purposes only.


Risk Issues Probability of accident Likely severity Risk estimation Control measures
1 Risk of collision with other oared boat, powered vessel or fixed obstruction
Novice and inexperienced coxes.
Coxswains fail to attend coxswains’ pre-race meeting
Lack of adherence to marshalling instructions

Risk of meeting powered vessels coming upriver during race (river not closed); especially in Kew restricted zones.
Potential for lack of experience during coronavirus pandemic
Likely Slight Harm Medium
  1. UH sets basic minimum coxing experience criteria (min 30 outings);
  2. Annual testing of all coxes boating from ULBH by ULBH safety advisor (similar process at other boathouses)
  3. Emphasis on responsibilities of individual club captains at UH committee meeting and elsewhere to ensure compliance with marshalling instructions and attendance at coxswains’ meeting.
  4. Coxswains’ meeting – emphasise the need to adhere to the CPRT and the specific variations agreed with the PLA (relating to following the navigation line and navigation through the Kew RZ’s if and when it is safe to do so)
  5. Emphasise need at briefing for officials’ launches to be in designated position throughout marshalling and race.
  6. Race officials monitor powered vessel activity (in conjunction with downriver ‘spotter’, specific role for officials 5 and 6 to monitor Kew RZs and provide instruction to competitors during race. Event needs to ensure that there is appropriate tasking for these roles.
  7. Sanction on crews for significant contravention of CPRT via standard BR/PLA reporting process.
2 Radio communication failure Immersion of handset/ severe rain
Handset battery failure
Handset failure.
Length of course.
Positioning of booster station.
Unlikely Slightly harmful Low
  1. Mobile phones as back-up;
  2. Total system failure will require control to consider suspension of event.
  3. Use of recognised supplier for radio system
3 Use of inexperienced race officials Use of relatively junior personnel (student based)
Limited availability of licenced umpires
Likely Slight harm Medium
  1. Invitation of other licenced umpires by CU
  2. Role allocation by CU (high risk area – Kew RZs)
  3. Briefing by chief umpire
  4. Overall control by chief umpire waterborne in start area
  5. Adherence to radio code
4 Launch engine failure Borrowed launches;
Engine failure/ lack of petrol during event; but  other launches in action;
Launch failure prior to event, with no available spare
Very unlikely Slight
Very Low

  1. The event will not commence without eight fully functioning launches.
  2. Launch drivers need to be aware of the risk of grounding up river towards Syon.
  3. If a launch failure occurs during the event, then control will take immediate steps to identify a reserve launch. If one is not available, then the control/CU will review whether suspension of racing is appropriate. It may be possible to transfer one or two race monitors to the single (e.g. 4 and 7).
5 Inadequate launch safety equipment Borrowed equipment
(responsibility rests with the individual club captains)
Very unlikely Moderate
  1. UHBC will not allow the event to start without nine fully equipped launches
  2. If a reserve launch is brought into action then control to check launch.
  3. UHBC identifies responsibility of individual club captains at UHBC committee meetings and elsewhere to provide equipment in line with British Rowing ‘Row safe’.
6 Immersion in the Tideway Risk of immersion, hypothermia and drowning.
Very unlikely Extreme Harm Low
  1. All private matches based at ULBH will have appropriate rescue boat provision from recognised provider.
  2. The event cannot commence without adequate safety boat cover.
  3. Back up via RNLI if needed.
  4. All coxes will wear buoyancy aids/lifejackets in line with BR Row safe
  5. Rowers will need to satisfy individual clubs regarding competence to swim; if not competent then they must wear an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket.
  6. If rowers are competent to swim then they will not wear specific buoyancy aids in line with national standards for rowing as set out in BR Row Safe
7 Medical evacuation LAS ambulance.
Evacuation route via ULBH
Note impact of COVID19
Very unlikely Extreme Harm Low
  1. CU medically qualified.
  2. Other officials will also have basic life support provision ability.
  3. LAS outside of UH/ULBC control.
  4. Designated primary evacuation route via ULBH.
8 Fast ebb stream conditions (high fluvial flow) PLA ‘flag’ system
(Greater chance of high fluvial flows during winter months)
Likely Extreme harm High risk
  1. CU and organising committee to review ebb flow rates over previous few days, and aim for early notification (>24 hours) to competitors about changes to the planned events.
  2. If ‘red’ flag then event may not proceed on the ebb and no oared boats should be allowed on the Tideway; rowing may be possible during the time between low and high water but the stream speed may still be high and on the ebb and the CU & organising committee may sanction senior crews only to race in this period provided there is a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing.
  3. If ‘yellow’ flag then only senior crews may boat on the ebb and the CU and organising committee may sanction senior crews to race in this period provided that there is a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing. It may be possible for the CU and organising committee to sanction intermediate and novice crews to race during the period between low and high water but only if there has been a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing. No crews comprising members who have less than two term’s rowing experience should boat during the ebb stream in ‘yellow’ flag conditions.
9 Poor weather conditions High wind speeds
Heavy rain
Limited visibility
Likely Extreme harm High risk
  1. CU and organising committee to review weather forecasts over previous few days and aim for early notification (>24 hours) to competitors about adverse weather conditions.
  2. If gusts are forecast >35mph in a direction parallel to the river and against the stream then there is a high likelihood of unrowable conditions especially near high water (e.g. at Brentford on the ebb with an easterly wind).
  3. However the Mortlake reach is relatively sheltered from the prevailing southwest wind direction and it may not be possible to accurately predict the impact of high wind speed on the water conditions until the time of the event.
  4. If there is doubt then the organising committee will instruct a delay in boating from ULBH and TSSC until there has been a course inspection by the CU.
  5. The CU and organising committee may determine that it is possible to achieve safe racing conditions by curtailing the course (finishing at ULBC) – see appendix 11.
  6. Heavy rain or other climatic conditions may temporarily reduce visibility and the CU will monitor the situations during the event.
  7. If the visibility is reduced such that the railway bridge cannot be seen clearly across the width of the river from the balcony of ULBH then the event should be suspended.
10 Navigation of powered vessels in regatta area Navigation of other vessels must not be impeded
Adequate look-out by coxes, marshals, umpires
Likely Slight harm Medium
  1. Event timing usually late in the day which tends to reduce potential for conflict with other river users
  2. Event advertised on PLA event calendar
  3. Impact of Hammersmith Bridge closure 2020-2021 on class V activity – most class V vessels will start and finish at Kew Pier and therefore will be directly observable during the event.
  4. Effective use of bank marshal (spotter) downriver of race finish to advise of oncoming vessels; to liaise with start.
  5. Experience of race starter/officials
  6. Monitoring of VHF channel 14 by CU and safety launch (VHF licenced).
11 Watermanship of competitors and other oared boats proceeding to marshalling area
  • Failure of cox to keep adequate look-out.
  • Failure to adhere to PLA byelaws & CPRT
  • Revised crossing arrangements at Brentford Lock (for all oared boats)[2]
  • Depth of water behind PLA moorings at Brentford & position of wooden post.
Likely Slight harm Medium
  1. See 1 above;
  2. Supervision by  launches of CPRT rules in inshore zone
  3. Launches 4 and 7 to be on station promptly and monitor crossing points. Launch 4 to control revised Brentford crossing point, launch 7 opposite UL.
  4. Pre-race information to coxes, only experienced coxes (30 hours experience minimum) permitted to race; emphasise care to be taken when proceeding to the marshalling zone to avoid other crews proceeding in the opposite direction on the flood (especially at the crossing points (upstream of ULBH and at revised Brentford crossing).
  5. Port-hand buoys helps control risk by identifying correct navigation channel.
  6. Provision of crossing indication at the revised Brentford crossing point (UHBC tin fish with sign anchored to riverbed) – emphasis on crews proceeding around the crossing sign on Surrey and then taking the crossing rather than crossing before the sign.
  7. PLA mooring supervision by launch 2 (wooden post);
  8. Pre-race information to coxes about wooden post;
  9. PLA notice to mariners;
  10. UHBC written/e-mail notification to other local clubs;
  11. Warning to those deliberately ignoring instructions that report will be made to PLA/TRRC/own club

12 Supervision of marshalling areas
  • Failure to adhere to temporary navigation rules set out in PLA calender
  • Crews rowing at firm pressure in congested area
  • Too many boats in marshalling area between crossing and PLA moorings
  • Navigation behind PLA moorings (note wooden post)
Likely Slight harm Medium
  • 3 launches in  marshalling area;
  • Pre-race instruction to coxes;
  • Launch 2 to check depth for navigation behind PLA moorings if necessary and assess impact of wooden post (sufficient room between post and mooring for an VIII);
  • No firm pressure / racing starts in marshalling area;
  • Launches 3 and 4 to hold crews below crossing if excess congestion.
13 Turning of competitors onto the stream

Unsafe river conditions immediately prior to race
  • Novice coxes
  • Failure of cox to keep adequate look-out
  • Failure of cox to get boat into correct in-shore area as a result of the turn
  • Failure of marshalling launch to supervise turning
  • Unobserved obstruction on course
  • Motor vessel against stream on course (especially at Kew RZ)
  • Non-compliant external crew
Likely Slight
  1. Adequate supervision by marshalling launches 1 & 2;
  2. Pre-race information to coxes;
  3. Club captains to ensure proficiency of novice coxes
  4. Adequacy of experience of race officials;
  5. Area under direct supervision of CU during racing periods
14 Landing at the start
  • Landing with the stream
Unlikely Slight harm Low
  • Coxes to practice landing with stream; pre-race information to coxes
  • Encourage coxes to turn boats at the stake without going round again
  • Launches 1 & 2 to supervise second attempts.
15 Start sequence
  • Unobserved obstruction on course
  • Class V vessel on course
  • Delay whilst waiting for powered vessels coming upriver (particularly likely at weekend)
  • Non-compliant external crew
Unlikely Moderate harm Medium
  • Chief umpire in charge of start sequence;
  • wait or abort start up to last few seconds if necessary if powered vessel/pleasure cruiser or non-compliant external crew on course;
  • Chief umpire to visually check whole of marshalling area and radio check prior to starting sequence;
16 Injury to stakers
  • From blades of own boat or next boat
  • Inattention just after start
  • May go too deep into water
Unlikely Moderate harm Medium
  •       Stakers to go no further in than waist height; emphasis at coxes and marshals meetings. Note no incidents since 2011.
  •       Stakers must stand back and keep a good lookout.
  • Shore party regulation in 2021 per coronavirus restruictions
17 Race start and course
  • Coxes’ attention drawn away from proper watermanship
  • Failure to keep adequate look-out
  • Failure to adhere promptly to CPRT
  • Conflict with motor vessels (especially on Saturday)
  • Difficulty in communication between marshals and coxes
  • Potential impact of Team Keane boating area moving from ULBH to the Middlesex side adjacent to Brentford Lock - possibility of conflict with TK crews crossing without an adequate lookout.



(usually no conflict)

  • Pre-race information to coxes;
  • Ensure all coxes have key minimum competencies as assessed by club captains; specific requirement on all club captains to disclose problems with competency at previous UHBC committee meeting
  • Launch 3 (JM) will attempt to delay race start to avoid possible conflict in Kew RZs with oncoming powered vessels
  • Launch 4 to monitor activity at Team Keane boating area and advise crews as needed
  • Launch 8 to provide initial escort powered vessels upriver
  • Launches equipped with adequate megaphone and flags.
18 Navigation in Kew Restricted Zone
  •  – failure of coxes to adhere to changed rules
  • Potential narrowing of channel in RZ’s by oncoming powered vessels
Likely Slight harm Medium
  • Overtaking in Kew RZs only when safe (coxes’ meeting)
  • Umpires 5 & 6 (led by U5) have power to enforce ’line astern’ racing if conditions not safe (e.g. oncoming powered vessel)
  • Launch 8 to provide initial escort of powered vessel upriver
19 Bumping
  • Physical contact possible
  • Possibility of personal injury - Inadequate bowball and/or foot restraints
  • Despondancy in losing crew; failure to keep an adequate lookout;
  • Difficulty where channel narrowed (PLA moorings, Brentford Ait, Oliver’s Eyot)
  • Effect of PLA Restricted Zones at Kew  (CPRT)
  • Failure of crews to disengage promptly and likelihood of obstruction of fairway (especially in Kew RZs)
Likely Slight
(based on UHBC experience; although possibility of equipment damage)
  • Encourage early acknowledgement of bump to avoid physical contact of any sort – ‘two canvas’ rule (coxes’ meeting);
  • 2021 Change in definition of bump to avoid person/person contact and disallowance of bump in these circumstances
  • Officials to inspect bowballs and adequacy of foot restraints of boats rowing in event (British Rowing rules of racing)  (but in line with current BR Covid Guidelines);
  • Officials to target narrow channel areas (especially PLA moorings - launches 2 & 3);
  • Specific terms of NTM to permit overtaking in Kew RZs
  • Other rules of RZs not varied – to emphasise at coxes’ and officials meetings
  • Possible need for umpires 5 & 6 to order ‘line astern’; revised bumping rules in this case in the Kew RZs (no overtaking, no technical bumps etc) – coxes’ meeting;
  • Losing (leading) cox must always move first to disentangle the bump – especially in the Kew RZs;
  • Crews must only stop in two designated areas on Surrey side of fairway (before and after Kew RZs), without obstructing either the fairway or the Surrey inshore zone (emphasis at coxes’ meeting) –umpires 4, 5,6 & 7
20 Race finish and turning
  • Failure to keep an adequate lookout
  • Failure to comply with CPRT
  • Potential obstruction of Surrey inshore zone (especially ladies’ crews turning after ULBH)
  • Failure to comply with requirements of Chiswick Bridge RZ (CPRT) – men’s race (general issue)
Likely Slight harm Medium
  • Launches 7 & 8 to ensure boats able to turn safely away from bridges and RZs;
  • Procedure for turning in pre-race information to coxes (coxes’ meeting); including discussion about Chiswick Bridge RZ (general issue, relevant to crews returning to TSS.
21 Watermanship of returning crews
  • Failure to adhere to CPRT, especially in Surrey in-shore zone (general point);
  • Failure to give way to vessels on fairway when crossing back to ULBH
Unlikely Slight
  • Navigation back to ULBH in coxes’ meeting, umpire 7 to supervise crossing of crews back to ULBH (assisted by other launches as available) at water outfall.
[2] Local rules are advertised by the PLA at



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