Some worrying incidents at recent Hasler races have highlighted the need for the whole marathon racing community to put safety first. A collective approach is the best possible way to maintain this focus and avoid mistakes escalating into serious incidents. Please read on…
Race Organisers have a lot to do on the day, but must put safety at the top of their list. This includes planning for all levels of ability, briefing marshals and competitors effectively, and having very clear lines of communication and escalation in case of incidents.
Team Leaders and Coaches should consider their own dynamic risk assessments to work out if the paddlers they are bringing will be able to cope with the distances, the course and conditions on the day.
Finally, paddlers (and their parents or responsible adult in case of juniors) should always attend the race briefing, and be confident to ask questions of, or challenge where they are unsure.
The new guidance for U12 classes should be studied by all race organisers and team leaders (and ideally, parents/coaches)
The section from the Racing Rules on Safety is copied below for your information, please take the time to read it.
a) Competitor responsibility
i) Competitors must render their boats sufficiently buoyant to remain afloat and to support the crew in the event of capsize. Buoyancy must be fixed in the boat reasonably sufficiently to satisfy rule 27 of the ICF Marathon Rules which states that: ‘Each boat must carry sufficient buoyancy, either in the construction of the boat or fixed subsequently, to keep the boat floating level when filled with water.’ British Canoeing Marathon Committee rules interpretation of this is that inherent buoyancy provided by ‘Vac-bag’ or ‘sandwich’ construction is not alone sufficient and must be supplemented by adequate fixed additional flotation material or by the provision of sealed bulkheads.
ii) Competitors must be able to swim adequately in the waters on which the race is being held. It is the responsibility of each competitor (or of a parent in the case of a junior) to inform their team leader of any medical condition that may affect this. If the competitor is entering an event where they have no team leader, it is their responsibility (or of a parent in the case of a junior) to take appropriate precautions and inform the organiser.
iii) On open water adequate spray covers must be worn.
iv) All paddlers are required to render assistance to other competitors in distress.
v) The wearing of life jackets or buoyancy aids is compulsory for all paddlers ranked in divisions 7, 8, 9 and 10 irrespective of the race they are entered in. This applies to singles and doubles races.
vi) Life jackets must comply with either the European Standard ‘EN393 or 395 or the International Standard ‘ISO 12402’.
b) Team Leader responsibility
i) Team Leaders should decide if paddlers in the higher divisions should wear life jackets or buoyancy aids.
ii) Should a member of your team (or a parent in the case of a junior) inform you of any medical condition that may affect their safety, you should ensure that they take appropriate precautions and that the organiser is informed.
iii) Team Leaders should ensure their paddlers ability and experience is appropriate for the course and conditions particularly in the case of young or less experienced paddlers.
c) Race Organiser responsibility
i) Race organisers may require life jackets or buoyancy aids and spray covers to be worn and will have the FINAL say as to who should wear them (except where this is covered by rule 5a(v)) depending on weather and water conditions. Such equipment must be provided by the competitors.
ii) The penalty for infringing any safety rule is disqualification from the race.
iii) Should a team leader, an individual paddler (or a parent in the case of a junior) with no team leader, inform you of any medical condition that may affect their safety, you should ensure that they have taken appropriate precautions and that these fall within the compass of your risk assessment before accepting the entry. Organisers must include risk assessment for Div 10 races, taking into account their age & experience, provide adequate safety cover (e.g. rescue boats and signage) over the whole course where considered necessary
iv) Race organisers should ensure that race briefings state what safety measures have been taken, such as marshals or accompanying boats particularly for Lightening or Div 9/10 races.
Canoeing and Kayaking in all its forms is an ‘Assumed Risk – Water Contact’ sport.