Safety and Race Instructions 2023

Saturday 18th March 2023 at 1300 hrs GMT


ALL coxswains and coaches are required to observe the Rules of the Race.

The HoRR Committee strongly recommends that all competing clubs show their crew coxes the video “Steering a Tideway Head” at least once before the race.

On the day of the race, and in the preceding days, there are many crews using the Tideway, and a large number are on unfamiliar waters.  On Race Day there is a river closure from 1200, and the normal rules are suspended, but they apply at all other times.

For information on the rowing on the Thames please refer to the PLA Tideway Code for Rowers. This is essential reading for all crews, coxes and coaches. Consult with your host club prior to boating for training, specifically enquire about live Notices to Mariners, tide changes and the impact of fluvial flows on your outing. All crews must comply with the navigation rules and guidance laid out in the Tideway Code.


Your attention is drawn to Rules of the Race 3. “Any crew or club at fault in a verifiable navigational incident or boating without a six letter and digit code on the Tideway during the fourteen day period prior to the event may be sanctioned or excluded from starting.”

In addition to the specific Rules, all coxswains are required to ensure that they treat their own safety and that of other crews as a priority. Coaches are to ensure that their coxswains are familiar both with the Rules of the Race and the River. The River will be closed between Putney and Kew bridges from 1200 hrs on race day until the last boat has crossed the finish line. Safety cover will extend from Kew Railway Bridge to approximately 200 metres below Fulham Railway Bridge.

All crews and boats must conform, in all respects, to the British Rowing Row Safe Code during training and racing. Random checks will be carried out on competitors from all boating locations.

Coxes must carry a mobile telephone in a watertight pouch during outings.

We remind ALL crews of the need to bring sufficient kit, not only in the event of a long wait in the Marshalling Area, but also in the event of abandonment.

Should your hull be swamped and provided all hatches are secure it should still be rowable. Your crew should stay with the boat until a rescue boat arrives, or you have manoeuvred it ashore.


  1. The ‘Marshalling Area’ extends from Kew Railway Bridge to the crossing upstream of Chiswick Eyot.
  2. Crews may only paddle up to half pressure and to a maximum rate of 21 in the marshalling area, unless instructed to do so by an official.
  3. Beginning one hour prior to the start of the race all crews must boat and marshal in accordance with these marshalling rules, even where this may conflict with the normal traffic rules of the Tideway.
  4. Shore based marshals are identified by yellow tabards.
  5. Crews will await the start in 7 divisions, heading upstream in reverse order of starting. Division 1 should be approximately in line with the Surrey buttress of Chiswick Bridge

Division 1 crews must leave sufficient distance from the bank to permit Division 2 crews to marshal on their inside.

Surrey SideMiddlesex Side
(Linen numbers Black on White)(Linen numbers Black on Yellow)
Division 1 (centre)1 – 50  
Division 251 -100Division 3101 – 150
Division 4151 – 200Division 5201 – 250
Division 6251 – 290 Division 7291 – 322

Please note exact Division composition and numbers are subject to change following the completion of the draw.

Please see the plan of the and identify your position in relation to landmarks. When waiting, crews must maintain their position against the tide, leaving half a length between crews.

  1. In the marshalling area, the middle of the river must be left for crews going with the tide, crews going against the tide must be on the side in which they are marshalling.

By 1245 hrs, all crews marshalling in Divisions 1, 2 & 3 must be upstream of Chiswick Bridge and in their Marshalling positions. Any crews which have not reached Chiswick Bridge by that time will be held below the Bridge, and will have to row at the end of Divisions 4 or 5 as the case may be.

By 1245 hrs crews marshalling in Divisions 4 – 7 must be downstream of Chiswick Bridge and on their marshalling side of the river. You may not cross the river in the marshalling area after this time. The last crossing place heading upstream after 1220 hrs is at Chiswick Steps – below the marshalling area – and is patrolled by a marshal.

Crews in divisions 4 – 7 should be assembled by 1245.

  1. Crews must abide by the boating arrangements of their host clubs. (Crews must obtain permission to boat from a host club in advance of race day.)
  2. Number plates, and kit numbers on both bow and cox, must be visible at all times.
  3. On the instructions of a Marshal, boats in the division will turn, bows towards the middle of the river. Boats must then proceed downstream through Chiswick Bridge.
  4. Boats will be formally started from a launch just below Chiswick Bridge.

Note: There are two maps here one for the start and one for the finish, please click on the pdf to be able to change pages.



The Committee fully realises the huge disruption that can be caused by cancellation, and/or misleading or late information through the different social media.

  1. The Race is ON, unless a time-stamped message is put out on Twitter, e-mail and the main page of the website stating that it is OFF. Once it has been declared OFF, it will not be reinstated. It is the intention that all 3 media will be updated at the same time, but for operational reasons it may take up to 30-45 minutes.
  2. The two key risks for the event are high wind speeds and high fluvial flow rates (the flow of water from upriver). The Committee will in general be reviewing the fluvial flow pattern and weather forecasts, in the days prior to and during the Race.
  3. If there are high fluvial flows it may be necessary to alter the marshalling arrangements or reduce the number of competitors for safety reasons.
  4. If there are high wind speeds forecast it may be necessary to reduce the numbers of competitors to avoid exposed banks and consider shortening the course.
  5. On race day there will be a course inspection shortly after high water, at which a decision may be made to cancel the race, delay the start, or possibly shorten the course. Any cancellation, delay or curtailment announcement will be made as soon as possible after high water and will be broadcast to crews by race officials and host clubs, and subsequently via Twitter.
  6. You are therefore recommended to monitor social media and HORR website for updates.
  7. It is in your own interests to ensure that you follow the HORR Twitter account, and that the three e-mail addresses you have given via BROE are all correct, up-to-date and different.
  8. If the Race needs to be changed or indeed abandoned for safety reasons while crews are on the water obey the instructions of the Marshals who will be following a prescribed plan. Failure to observe instruction will put this plan and safety at risk.


  1. Coxswains should read and digest the marshalling instructions prior to boating.  They may also wish to have access to them when afloat, but must actively delegate keeping a good lookout to their crew if consulting them. Coxes are reminded that if they arrive late to the start, they may be required to wait to the end of the division to be allowed to race, or may not be permitted to race at all.
  2. When marshalling, coxes are reminded to ensure that they are on the correct side of the river – if the crew’s kit numbers are Black on White background, the crew’s station will be on the Surrey (south) side, if they are Black on Yellow background, the crew will be on the Middlesex (north) side of the river. Coxes are not to approach their station on the wrong side of the river as they will not be permitted to cross at the last moment in the marshalling area. Crossing points downstream of the marshalling area are controlled by an umpire/marshal.
  3. The kit numbers must be visible before and during the race. They are waterproof. The bowman must wear one number on the back of his racing vest, the other on his outer garment.
  4. Coxes are reminded that the Tideway is subject to strong currents – when a crew is stopped on the water, it will still be moving at 3-4 mph. Crews must not attempt to stop or turn upstream of fixed hazards, such as bridges or moored boats.
  5. Both bow numbers and kit numbers will be delivered to your nominated host club; you do not collect them from Putney. There will be a sheet with QR links to the detailed instructions with the numbers. Bow numbers should however be returned to your host club or to Ranelagh Sailing club at Putney on the day of the race. Crews are responsible for returning their bow numbers. Crews whose bow numbers are not returned within seven days of the race will be charged a penalty of £30.

During the Race

  1. Overtaking crews should manoeuvre so as to overtake at a point where they will be as close as possible to their best course. A crew that is overtaking must have consideration for the slower crew and allow it sufficient time and space to give way. The crew being overtaken should look to move in good time, severe use of your rudder will slow you more significantly than being off the best course for the period. All crews have a responsibility to avoid collision.
  2. If a crew encounters any mechanical difficulties with their boat during the Race, they should stop racing, move away from the racing line towards the nearest bank and seek assistance.
  3. Crews MUST pass the Black Buoy and line of moored boats at Putney on the Middlesex (north) side. Crews attempting to pass by the Surrey side of the Black Buoy will be automatically disqualified.

Enjoy your racing!

Ben Helm Chief Umpire