Safety and mutual responsibility in races

During the season so far, a number of incidents have been drawn to the attention of the MRC relating to capsizes. These may have been through instability, or lack of skill, consideration or unnecessarily aggressive behaviour on part of other paddlers.

The MRC would like to remind all paddlers, team leaders and race organisers of the following points:

  • Rule 5 iv) All paddlers are required to render assistance to other competitors in distress. – this means checking that a paddler in the water is able to cope with the situation well enough to get out of the water.
  • Rule 5 ii) Competitors must be able to swim adequately in the waters on which the race is being held. It is hoped that team leaders ensure that their paddlers know how to manage their boats when a capsize does occur, being able to swim to a place where emptying and re-entry are possible.
  • Should a paddler accidentally cause a capsize, it is expected that an apology and offer of assistance will be made.
  • Rule 6) DISCIPLINE – final paragraphRace Organisers should note the powers in clause 2.1 of the Procedures to apply immediate discipline where members or competitors have displayed violent or unreasonable behaviour. (Marathon racing is subject to British Canoeing Marathon Racing Committee Disciplinary Regulations and to British Canoeing Disciplinary Code. See
  • Race organisers are reminded that the HRM system provides the facility for them to enter time penalties or allowances. Should a paddler delay their own race to render assistance, it would be appropriate to use this. Should evidence make it clear that a paddler has refused to assist or ignored a situation that may require assistance; organisers should take measured and appropriate action.
  • It is accepted that a young junior may not be able to offer greater assistance than a tow to the bank, or staying with the paddler while they swim, but it is expected that an adult paddler will be able to offer greater assistance particularly if the swimmer is a junior.
  • Race organisers are reminded that reference to Rule 5iv) must be included in their briefing.

It is in the interest of all paddlers that they learn to look after themselves and each other in race situations and it is also expected that team leaders ensure that this is the case.


Changes to Rules applying to Regional Hasler Events to take effect from 1st September 2016

During the course of the 2015/2016 season there have been a number of concerns about combining Divisions when races are not quorate, particularly with regards to Div 2_2 K2s. In order to respond to some of these issues, the MRC are making the following adjustments to the rules for regional Hasler races. These will apply for the start of the season as follows:

Introduction of Division 3_3 K2

For the forthcoming season, Division 3_3 K2 of 12 miles will be introduced. All other Divisions will remain the same as last season. (This will change Rule 24.)

20km     K1 Divisions 1, 2, 3            K2 Divisions 2_2, 3_3

13km     K1 Divisions 4, 5, 6            K2 Divisions 4_4, 5_5, 6_6

6.5km K1 Divisions 7, 8, 9              K2 Divisions 7_7, 8_8, 9_9

(All distances approximate.)

Combining races for inquorate Divisions in both K1 & K2

When there are less than 3 boats in a Division the following should happen:

  1. The inquorate race should be combined with another race with these conditions
    1. If a division is inquorate it should be started with the closest ranked quorate division of the same distance if this is possible. (If not, it will need combining and starting with a lower division.)
    2. If more than one consecutive division is inquorate, they should be combined to make a quorate race.
    3. Races made of combined divisions should be started together.
    4. The combined races should be kept separate in the HRM system from now onward.
  2. The points and any promotions/demotions are affected as follows:
    1. As the races are only combined for starting purposes, there is no effect on points, promotions or demotions. These will be awarded on the same basis as if the races were quorate and started separately.

This will change Rule 27 and have bearing on other related rules. Rule 26 still applies.

The MRC considered a number of measures to address the concerns and have altered the rules to try and respond to them. It is recognised that no change can take account of the widely varying circumstances from one region to another and that race organisers together with Regional Marathon Advisors will still be called upon to apply the rules in a way that is both possible and within the intention of them.

It will still be the case that some divisions will be inquorate particularly in smaller regions. In the past, where clubs have communicated with each other about entering events, particularly in higher divisions, inquorate entries leading to combined races have largely been avoided.  This practice is to be commended, particularly in upper Divisions.

As the alterations to the rules require inquorate races to be combined for starts, but remain separate in the HRM system and on results, the MRC wish to reiterate the hope that prizes are awarded in the spirit of Rule 29) as we know many organisers already do.

Appropriate rules will be reworded for the 2017 handbook.

New racing rule on disposable drink containers and food packaging

Following a rise in littering during races, the MRC have decided to take immediate action to minimise the impact of our sport upon our waterways.  This is something the ICF are also considering and we have decided to make our stance very clear in advance of any international racing rule changes that may be introduced.

It is vital that we do our part to protect the environment and the waters that we enjoy.  There have been concerns expressed that paddlers are being careless with drinking bags, energy bar wrappers and gel sachets.  Such items must be disposed of properly and it is totally unacceptable that they are left littering the bank or left floating in waterways.

Therefore the MRC racing rules will, with immediate effect, be revised to include the following wording:

During the course of a competition any items discarded by a competitor anywhere other than in a proper bin, must be recovered by the athlete, their support crew or coach immediately. It is the athlete’s responsibility to ensure that this has happened.

An event official witnessing non-compliance with this rule shall report the infringement to the race organiser and the offending competitor will be disqualified from the competition. Any repeat infringements by the same competitor shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Marathon Racing Committee.

The main focus of this rule change is to target the problem of discarded single use drink bags.  The MRC will continue to review the unnecessary waste associated with their use and encourage athletes to adopt the reusable systems that are readily available.

Competition “event tickets”

There has been some discussion recently about competition ‘day tickets’.

The sole purpose of such a ‘ticket’ is to provide temporary insurance cover to take part in an event, normally issued by a race organiser in respect of their own competition. It is only payable by those unable to prove British Canoeing membership, and a marathon racer can use this facility only once in a season. The cost of the day ticket is remitted to British Canoeing directly. It is not something that is administered or collected by the MRC.

An Event ticket, which is officially the name, covers insurance only and is not a “day membership” or boat license for the use of waterways, as provided for most waters, with full British Canoeing membership.

Stan Missen, MRC Chair

Promotions at non-divisional races

Earlier in the year there was some discussion as to whether promotions could take place at races such as the Frank Luzmore and Thameside.  The MRC agree that the current wording created some ambiguity and so the rule wording has been revised accordingly.

For clarity promotions can take place at such events.  Such races are one of the few occasions that all divisions race over the same distances in the same conditions and are thus useful ‘leveller’ against which performances can be compared.  Such races can also however be subject to adverse river levels and weather conditions which may be taken into account and mean that no promotions are appropriate.

Preventing the spread of non-native water species and disease

The Waterways and Environment Team at British Canoeing are keen to educate paddlers on the risks of non native species in our rivers and canals and how best to prevent them spreading.

With regard to the use of disinfection – there is no disinfectant that has been tested on non native species…therefore there are no guarantees for any disinfection to be effective to prevent the spread of these species. The following should be adopted where it is practical and reasonable to do so:

Check all your equipment and clothing for living organisms and plants fragments. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp and hard to inspect.

Clean and wash all equipment, clothing and footwear thoroughly away from water source… Wash down on site using available clean fresh water and leave any organisms or plant fragments at the water body where you found them OR on a hard standing or grass area away from a water source or drain system.

Completely dry out all equipment and clothing before going to a new site – particularly effective at killing crayfish plague fungal spores. Some species can live for many days in damp conditions

If any paddlers have specific questions relating to this issue please contact Richard Atkinson at British Canoeing