Spotters are needed to assist the coach, by providing an extra pair of eyes on the bank.
As a spotter you will:
- warn juniors of potential hazards, such as other boats or water users approaching, or bends in the river which need to be negotiated
- assist in the event of a capsize.
- be a friendly face that the children can ask for assistance
Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the art of rowing, you will not be required to give any coaching advice.
Mobile spotters will follow a set number of boats on a bicycle, this will either be along the river, or canal and the furthest distance you would be required to cycle, would be along the canal to the Turf which is an approximate round trip of 15km on level cycle path. If you would like to be a mobile spotter but don’t feel that you could tackle 15km please don’t worry, the majority of juniors will not go that far, so help will be needed on shorter stretches of the river or canal too. The club has bikes which can be used, or you are welcome to bring your own, there are bike racks at the club where you can lock your bike up during breaks.
You will be posted at a set point along the river bank or canal, often on a bend where you can see in both directions to warn of oncoming traffic, or to watch juniors who may be staying within the confines of the Basin.
Hazards to be aware of
- Circulation Pattern
There is a recognised circulation pattern for river and canal users, which is to stay to the right, in the direction of travel. Not all water users are good at keeping to this, so spotters will need to be aware that they will still need to keep a look out and warn their juniors of any craft on the wrong side of the river.
- Salmon Pool Bridge (The Lie Down Bridge)
If juniors are rowing on the canal to Double Locks they will have to negotiate this bridge. As its nickname suggests rowers have to lie down to get underneath it. The coach will make the decision as to whether the water is low enough to navigate, and if so, the rower must keep their blades level and flat on the water and lie down backwards until they have gone underneath. Any junior going under this bridge will have previously done so with a coach supervising.
Some swans can be aggressive towards rowers, especially during the breeding season, so spotters need to warn rowers to give them a wide berth wherever possible.
- Gates on to the River
Juniors can have difficulty negotiating these as they are not always fully opened, meaning they will have to pull their blades in to get through them. There is a pontoon by the gates which you can access if you need to give assistance.
You may be asked to help carry boats in and out of the boat house, as some of the quads and doubles can be very heavy for the juniors to handle themselves. However, do please let a coach know if you are unable to lift heavy weights, this is not a problem, and they will find someone else to assist. It’s important to remember to lift the boats only to a height that suits the juniors, as raising one end too high can put all the weight onto the junior at the other end.
Using a throwline
You will be shown how to use a throwline by one of the junior coaches. Remember to focus on throwing it so that it lands over the person in the water, making it easy for them to grab. If you would like a quick refresher, you might find this YouTube
video useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnLP5PZED54
In the Event of a capsize
Immediately raise the alarm, you will be given the mobile numbers of your group’s coach and fellow volunteer spotters to use if needed. Do not go into the water yourself.
- Remind the rowers to NOT LET GO OF THE BOAT (it is their buoyancy aid and a visual marker).
- Deploy your throwline.
- Encourage them to get as much of their bodies out of the water as they can, by lying across the upturned hull (this will reduce the effect on the body of cold water.)
- Then slowly pull the throwline to bring the rower and boat back towards the bank, asking the rower to help by kicking with their legs to propel the boat.
- A decision will then be made with the coach as to whether the boat will be towed or rowed back to the club.
- Once the rower and boat are secured get the junior back to the clubhouse to shower, change and warm up as soon as possible.