Salvage Association Tideway Risk Assessment

The Rowing Service

(Published at the request of the Thames Regional Rowing Council, October 26th 2004)

Risk Assessment of Tideway Rowing by the Salvage Association

? CONSULTATION NOTICE INCLUDED TOO? The Navigation Authority for the Tidal Thames, The Port of London Authority (PLA) has commissioned the Salvage Association (SA) to conduct a risk assessment of the operation of the Rowing Rules on the Upper Tidal Thames. The Assessment started in October and will continue until January 2005.

The PLA are concerned that the operation of the rowing rules between Putney and Richmond commonly known in Rowing circles as "working the slacks" or the "Coni Rules" may not be the safest answer for all river users. See their 'Notice to Mariners' on this subject.

The Salvage Association is an Independent body who specialise in investigating marine accidents, for example they wrote the report after 'The Marchioness' tragedy. See their website here.

The PLA are responsible for navigation on the River Thames throughout its tidal section up to Teddington. They communicate with river users mainly by means of 'Notices to Mariners'. These can be found on their site.

The Thames Regional Rowing Council have appointed Chris Sprague (London RC), a leading Marine Solicitor, and me to work with the PLA & SA and co-ordinate the response of the Rowing world to this risk assessment. We would urge all clubs and concerned members to respond to this assessment. To help you when considering your reply we have drawn together a number of items that we think will help you. They are (MS Word format);

  1. A series of maps indicating the operation of the rowing rules, where there are particular hazards, the crossing points, and the benefits of having the rowing rules for navigating the Upper Tideway. Also some notes about the problems that would be caused to Rowers if the International Rules of navigation (the ColRegs) were in force on the Tideway.
  2. A note from Tommy Thompson (Vesta RC), a former Thames Rowing Council Chairman, who was the ARA Safety Officer giving the background to the situation today.
  3. A note from Stuart Ward (Bradford RC), ARA Safety Adviser explaining the ARA's present position and activities on this subject.

We shall be putting together a full written submission to the SA during November and December. It would be helpful to have a copy of your responses to the consultation. We have set up an email address for these which is

During the next few weeks the SA, who have already been around the Tideway observing and gathering information, will be visiting a number of clubs to speak with as many rowers as they can. These visits will be announced in advance and the SA will be accompanied by a Divisional Representative. The SA will also be afloat with experienced Tideway rowing people at times when the river is busy. In addition, they are also planning to visits to some regular Tideway visitors. The visits will try and encompass as many different rowing users as possible from all sectors of our sport. Martin Humphries (London RC) is available to come to your club and give you more information. He can be contacted via as above.

It is clear that some members (and coaches) and clubs struggle to comply with the Rowing Rules from time to time. We would urge club Captains, Coaches and Safety Advisors to deal quickly and firmly with any breaches during the next few weeks. You should advise your Divisional representative whenever a breach occurs. Margaret Adams (Chair of Thames Region Rowing Council) has formed a Group of the Tideway Divisional Representatives and others who will be deciding what the Rowing world needs to do to put its own house in order and ensure compliance from all users. She would welcome any suggestions, which should also be sent to the email as above. I shall be speaking about Navigation on the Tideway at the seminar at Putney Town RC on 3 November.

The Tideway is a precious legacy which I would like to pass for future generations to enjoy. Please help me in this quest.

Stan Collingwood
Thames Trademens RC
23 October 2004