As we start to come out of lockdown and some of the restrictions are lifted we can start to look again at rowing. Unfortunately none of us on the committee are experts in coronavirus and therefore it is difficult to make a call as to when and how we start rowing again. British Rowing have a comprehensive booklet on their website https://www.britishrowing.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/200629-Coronavirus-Advice-Returning-to-Rowing-v4.pdf, an extract from which is below:
As of 4 July, the Government’s advice on social distancing has been updated from a strict two metres, to two metres or ‘1m plus’ which is one metre plus mitigations. Each club’s decision should be made on their own risk assessment, however, British Rowing would strongly advise a cautious approach to reintroducing rowing in crew boats. At this stage, our strong advice would be for no crew boat rowing. This is based on the detail of the Government guidance, consideration of all other available information and advice from our GB Rowing Team medical team. The Government’s ‘1m plus’ rule is designed for activities that cannot take place at two metres whereas rowing is possible in singles (and other boats for single households). The ‘1m plus’ rule also only allows for a 1 metre distance where other mitigations are in place. Examples of these mitigations include sitting back to back (not possible in a rowing boat) and wearing face masks (this may not be practical whilst rowing as the mask may become moist from breath, sweat making it harder to breathe).
Whilst they advise against crew boats for now this organisation is largely focussed on competitive river type rowing boats (4s and 8s etc), some of the mitigating factors mentioned could be implemented in St Ayles skiffs, particularly if the boat is rowed without a full crew e.g. sitting offset to the side and with cox and stroke wearing face coverings. The attached image shows how 2m distancing can be maintained with a crew of 3.
We therefore propose that we resume rowing with a maximum crew of 3 seated as per the attached diagram and that the following advice from the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association is followed:
SCRA Guidance for when rowing resumes:
• Do not attempt to go rowing if you feel unwell, or have any symptoms consistent with Covid 19, or are supposed to be shielding, regardless of whether this may result in a row being cancelled.
• Consider safe management of those requiring assistance to get in / out of boats and whether this is possible within current advice and personnel.
• Use your own, clean equipment (water bottles, clothing, VHFs etc). If borrowed or club equipment is used (life jackets, seat cushions etc) this must be thoroughly cleaned between crews. We recommend members use their own life jackets where possible
(It is the soap and thorough scrubbing and then rinsing that helps to disable and remove any virus, and it does not matter if the water is hot or cold. Washing-up liquid is as good as soap for removing the virus. The soapy water should also help remove any virus from your hands at the same time).
• Be mindful of any contact areas on the boat such as gunwales, seats, tillers, including rope tillers, etc and ensure these are wiped for each new crew.
• Wash your hands before and after rowing. If you wear gloves, ensure your gloves are clean each time.
• Follow Scottish Government advice with regard to face coverings. The face covering is to protect others, not the wearer. We suggest the cox and stroke wear a mask as they will be facing, optional for others
• The Test and Protect contact-tracing app, may necessitate personal mobile phones being carried. (People signed up to this app receive a text alert on their phone, notifying them if they have been in contact with a person subsequently testing positive for Covid 19). However, be mindful that mobile signal may be absent in some areas. We will keep a record of crews to enable tracing
• Be more cautious than normal. You want to reduce the chances of others being called out to assist you until all support services are fully up and running.
• Wash down the boats and oars with soapy water and/or disinfectant after the outing, paying particular attention to the parts which you know you have touched. We have left washing materials with the skiff in Wells
• Wash / wipe down your kit when you get home, including your gloves. Wash your hands after your activity, and before you engage in other activity.
• Further consideration will be necessary for those with club houses or undertaking boat building and routine maintenance.
As previously stated none of us are experts and much of the advice is open to interpretation and common sense. Ultimately individual members will need to decide what they are happy to do and when. We are very much open to suggestions for how we can adapt and ensure everyone’s safety.
We ran a trial of the above on Saturday, 12th July, using the skiff at Wells. This was successful and it was surprisingly easy rowing the skiff with two oarspeople even against an incoming Wells tide
I hope to see you all soon
Best Regards, Will