Thank you for inviting USRowing to attend the National Boating Safety Advisory Council meeting. My name is Willie Black I am the coaching education manager and safety committee staff liaison. Glenn Merry, our executive director could not attend and he sends his thanks also and his regrets. We approach safety in as many ways as possible to get the information out to the community. We have had safety information in available since the early 80’s and within the past 4 years have gone over all of our materials and have updated and added to them. The sport has doubled in the past 10 years and so has our exposure. There have been a couple tragedies in the past 4 years, the first in many years, and we hope that with our efforts we can reach everyone in the community and give them the information they need to be safe on the water.
Formed in 1872 as the National Association for Amateur Oarsmen, later changed to the United Stated Rowing Association, which is still our incorporated name, we currently go by USRowing. Originally formed out of a concern about the amateur status of some oarsmen in Philadelphia as rowing was developing in to a professional sport with a large gambling following. The organization has continued uninterrupted to this day and we are currently headquartered in Princeton, NJ,
Awareness- provide information to programs starting clubs, offering “learn to row day” programs, general information to the community and to the press about people and rowing. Coaching education- USRowing offers 25-30 coaching clinics every year, these clinics are designed for the new coach and coaches with many years of experience. We teach approx. 400 coaches a year in our regional level I and II coaching education program. We also have an annual convention with another 400-600 coaches. Referees- we have a corps who preside over all of our events and most rowing events in the US. Their mission for regattas is to ensure safety and fairness Olympics- We develop programs and procedures, operate training centers, and select to participate on our world championship and Olympic teams Racing- We offer 4 national championships, H.S., club, elite, and masters, plus 9 other regional events.
USRowing needed a way to get info out and produced a video that was for sale by the organization starting in 1986. It was the standard piece of info that thousands of rowers have seen. It was even used by the Canadian rowing association until this past year when they produced their own. Due to the change of equipment and updates info it was determined that we should remake this into a DVD. I rewrote it to include updated information, additional information and provide better flow of material for, hopefully, better retention by athletes, coaches and administrators. The DVD is the most visible piece of information we have and is required viewing at a majority of rowing clubs in the country. We decided to distribute the DVD for free to all our member organization for free. We thought that if we are serious about this and want to let the community know it, we should have this available to the approximately 1,200 member organizations. We know that there are more organizations out there that are not members of USRowing, not too many, but they should have access too, so we offer on our web site for $20. We are pleased with the result and have received very positive reviews from the community. USCG- We were able to make this happen because of a grant from the USCG and are very thankful. We also came in under our $8,500 budget and because of the flexibility of the grant administrator were able to divert some of the funds to the reproductions costs to purchase an extra thousand copies. This should keep us in DVD’s for about 5-10 years.
Clinics participation- 10 years ago when I took over the coaching education programs, as a side duty to being the logistics coordinator for our world championship and Olympic teams, we offered, at most, 10 clinics a year with only one level. We were fortunate to have to opportunity increase our offerings and added 2 more levels by the year 2000. We now have 4 times as many people going through our programs. The first level deals with issues that are directly related to being on the water, weather, safety equipment, working equipment, knowledge of the water way and hazards, and so on. Level II is focused on safety planning, information sharing, and legal responsibilities. Level III deals with developing an entire risk management program for all aspects of your program, on land, on the water, and transportation. At every step there is are reminders to become CPR, First Aid, and Boating Safety Certified. Our annual convention is where we see another 400-600 coaches. We use this as a bully pulpit to talk about safety. Last year we announced our agreement with Mustang to provide flotation suits at reduced rate to our coaches. We had a mustang rep demonstrate the suits and vests. At every opportunity we recommend that coaches get certified. Our current requirements for level III are current CPR, First Aid, and Boating Safety Certifications. We are rethinking this and plan to require all these at lower levels to obtain their certificates of completion. With many states offering one day courses and online training it is easier to create awareness about boating safety. Our first recommendation is for the state offered one day courses in boater safety. We particularly like that in CT a pwc operator has to get a second license.
The safety poster is meant to highlight safety issues and act as a reminder that the club is interested in the rowers safety. This is a remake of a previous poster, it is easier to read and understand. There is the understanding that this is not the entire safety program, but more of a way to keep it front and center in peoples minds. This was funded by a USCG grant we received a couple years ago and, again, we were able to come in under budget and made a couple more thousand copies, which we have since run out of and have printed more this year. I have seen many of these posters up in boathouses that I have visited over the past couple years. Again, we are thankful for the grant.
Our safety page is the consolidation of our safety information and it also presented the opportunity to really expand what we could share with the community. On the left you can see the most current articles that have been written by someone on the safety committee, myself, our national team doctor or someone else in the community. On the right are the links to more material. Text of the safety poster, is just that Pre-practice safety checklist is a quick list of everything we think should be in order before practice. The obvious things are all the safety equipment in the launch, but we also list Boating safety course in the coaches section, swim test for the athletes, along with the water bottle. Safety information links connects to a handful of web sites, USCG navigable waters, boating safety courses, Mustang survival gear, Sun protection information, lightning, hypothermia, and finally, links to other rowing programs safety pages. There are a handful of programs that put their info on line and this is quick resource for those creating their pages or updated them. The Potomac safety committee and the Schuylkill Navy pages are very good. Safety introduction is a quick overview, and contact info for me and the safety committee. We have a monthly newsletter and we include safety articles about 3/4 of the time. We try to make them seasonally appropriate, they are archived there. We have a decent collection now and recycle some and create new ones when we want to highlight a topic. Safety Bulletin was written 1987 as guide and recommendations. It’s a good outline for developing a safety program for a new club. We also include the International rowing organizations safety info. In the past couple of years we have started really stressing the use of PFD’s by coaches. This is a link to that program Boathouse Doc is our national team doctor and he writes an occasional column for the newsletter. We also have safety information in our resource library and members can access that if they are looking for more info.
Kippy Liddle was a coach in Philadelphia who drown when her engine died and she and her launch went over the dam. Despite the safety line that is there she was unable to stop. Her parents and USRowing developed this safety bag and the Liddles subsidized it for many years and then used all of the money they set aside for it. USRowing has continued to subsidize the program ever since. USRowing recommends that there be one PFD in the launch for each athlete on the water and we hope this kit gets coaches and administrators in the habit of making sure this happens.
The safety committee was first formed in early 1980’s. At that time there were will under 500 member organizations of USRowing. They developed the first video and a lot of the safety materials. The current committee was tasked with updating that material, which was completed last summer with the completion of the new DVD. The committee currently has a make up that includes current or former coaches, administrators, boat manufactures, referees, and organizers. We also represent every USRowing region, which there are 6 of. We address any safety issues that come up in the community and provide what information we can to help create a safe environment for rowing. Currently we are trying to get programs that share the same waterway to work together to develop a plan that works for everyone who rows and uses the waterway and that includes pleasure and commercial traffic. It is pretty difficult to get a consensus from the pleasure boaters but some clubs have invited a harbor master or local water authority. Commercial traffic that is a regular users of the water are also invited. This is just getting started but the response has been good from all sides. Many of the schools and clubs that share water have created traffic patterns in accordance with the local rules and usage.
As the number of rowing clubs grows so does the number of races. From early September to early November there are head races. Two to four mile rowing races against the clock. In early march the sprint season starts and the high school and college season ends with national championships in middle June. In the summer club racing takes over and we have our 4 national championships. The rules of rowing provide the framework for how to run a safe regatta. We also insure regattas and we demand that the regatta check list be satisfied before we will sign off on the insurance. The check list includes things like minimum number of referees, launches, pfd’s. Communications, first aid, course maps with hazards posted. Safety information included in the registration packets, and reminders that all boats need bow balls and heel ties. The shoes in the boats are bolted down so strings on the heels allow the rower to jerk their feet out in an emergency. We have a referee corps and like most sports we are always looking for more people willing to participate as referees. We are not an abusive group but most would rather be rowing than watching. The referees have an extensive program that takes them from observers to official duties to being a “full referee”, chief referee for a regatta, and then on to an international ref if they wish. Safety is their first concern and they have the power to stop a regatta due to any unsafe conditions. From the 10 years that I have traveled to international events, world cups, world championships and the Olympics, I can say that our referee error on the side of caution more so than the international refs.
Rowing shells are one of the boat types that are allowed to be on the water without PFD’s. this allows the athletes to participate and perform the rowing stroke unencumbered by the PFD. As the over whelming majority of rowing happens under the supervision of a coach we have been very fortunate to have almost no deaths due to drowning, the young coach in 2004, Steve Catilo, being the exception. That was the first accident related death in rowing in many years. We have the occasional heart attack in older rowers, but the drowning was the first in a very long time. We recognized that the coach as potential rescuer was also in need of support and education. We started a strong push for coaches to wear PFD’s at all times in the launch. As part of a USCG grant we purchased inflatable PFD’s and they are now shown and their use recommended at coaching clinics. If the rescuer is incapacitated then the crew could be in real trouble. We are fighting a culture of non use, but we are seeing changes. You will notice that we not only use them in the safety DVD, but explain their use and recommend them, and show one being inflated, for single scullers who row alone. Rowers on state controlled waters still have to comply with the local rules and we do run into that and we tell the rowers that they should purchase inflatable PFD’s and put them in the boats.
We know that there will never be a swamping or that someone will not get hurt rowing, but we are committed to continuing to work with the community to push safety. We meet some resistance, like with the PFD’s for coaches and we meet apathy because of the volume of rowers, from high school to 80 year olds out rowing and most have not been hurt or in a real dangerous situation. We think the efforts that we have made in the past few years have helped. As I mentioned at the beginning, the number of participants has doubled in the past 10 years and shows no sign of slowing we will continue to push safety with new coaches coming up through our coaching clinics, the bully pulpit of our convention and by developing new programs. Safety is very important to USRowing and was the reason that our executive director was very sorry that he could not be here, but he and the rest of the staff are engaged with safety at every level of the organization.
Thank you again for inviting me here today, If you have any questions please ask.
<ul><li>United States Rowing Association </li></ul><ul><li>Safety Information </li></ul>
USRowing <ul><li>Formed 1872 </li></ul><ul><li>First amateur sport organization in the US. </li></ul>
USRowing by the Numbers <ul><li>1,100 member organizations </li></ul><ul><li>15,000 individual members </li></ul><ul><li>150,000 rowers in the US. </li></ul>
USRowing <ul><li>Five main functions </li></ul><ul><li>Increase awareness of the sport </li></ul><ul><li>Coaching Education </li></ul><ul><li>Referees and rules </li></ul><ul><li>Administration/Development/Selection of our World Championship and Olympic Teams </li></ul><ul><li>Provide racing opportunities for our members with regional regattas and 4 National Championships. </li></ul>
Sources for Safety Information <ul><li>Safety DVD </li></ul><ul><li>Coaching Clinics </li></ul><ul><li>Safety Poster </li></ul><ul><li>Web site- Safety Page </li></ul><ul><li>Kippy Liddle Safety Kit </li></ul><ul><li>Safety Committee </li></ul><ul><li>Rules of Rowing </li></ul>
Safety DVD <ul><li>Originally filmed in 1986 </li></ul><ul><li>Re-filmed in 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Distributed to all USRowing member organizations for free. Available to anybody for $20. </li></ul><ul><li>Filmed and reproduced through a grant from the USCG </li></ul>
Coaching Clinics <ul><li>Offer 30-35 clinics around the country a year. </li></ul><ul><li>Three tier program, safety is the first chapter in each of our manuals. </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Convention </li></ul><ul><li>CPR, First Aid, Boating Safety requirements. </li></ul>
Safety Poster <ul><li>Highlights safety issues. </li></ul><ul><li>2 copies mailed to every USRowing member organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Funded with a USCG grant. </li></ul><ul><li>Free upon request. </li></ul>
Kippy Liddle Safety Kit <ul><li>Safety kit for launches that is subsidized by USRowing. Four kits are available to any USRowing member organization for $150 each. </li></ul><ul><li>11 PFD’s </li></ul><ul><li>Rescue Throw Bag </li></ul><ul><li>Flashlight </li></ul><ul><li>Air Horn </li></ul><ul><li>Rescue Blankets </li></ul><ul><li>First Aid Kit </li></ul>
Safety Committee <ul><li>USRowing Safety Committee is comprised of at least one person from all of our regions. </li></ul><ul><li>Represents, referees, boat manufactures, regatta organizer, racing league organizer, coaches, and USRowing. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop safety information, safety articles, safety programs. </li></ul>
Rules of Rowing <ul><li>The function of the rules is to provide a safe and fair regatta. </li></ul><ul><li>Regatta Check list </li></ul><ul><li>Referee training </li></ul>
PFD Exemption <ul><li>175.19 (33 CFR Ch. I (7-1-00 edition) (c) Racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks are exempted from the requirements for carriage of any Type PFD required in 175.15. </li></ul>
Challenges <ul><li>Communicating to our members </li></ul><ul><li>Coaches/rowers not feeling part of the boating community </li></ul>
Future <ul><li>Continued push to increase safety awareness and information. </li></ul><ul><li>Active presence in USRowing </li></ul>