It doesn’t have to sound archaic. Boathouse etiquette really is important even in this day and age, just as a certain etiquette is expected at a gym – safety is unquestionably the first concern, but so is the comfort of each member. As a boat club manager, it’s your job to provide a set of rules and guidelines to keep your club a responsible atmosphere for everyone to enjoy the sport of rowing.

Below we set out specific themes for you to consider as you write your own club guidelines.

Do you know the weather?

You should set the standards for rowing in extreme conditions (temperatures and winds) based on the weather systems that you have in your area. Make sure it’s written up clearly, so that everyone knows if the air temperature plus wind-chill is less than 6C under 15s, you cannot go on the water.  Or that rowing in the presence of lightning and thunderstorms is prohibited.

Care of equipment

Do you have clear rules about equipment breakages?  If you damage the boat you’re using, who do you tell?  Who pays?  When does damage become an insurance claim and are the individual members expected to contribute to your insurance excess payment?

H2O

Rowing is a strenuous exercise and athletes participating in the sport need to hydrate themselves. Periodic halts for rest and hydration are part of any practice. Rowers should be encouraged to have water with them at all times. Make sure your club is equipped with water fountains.

Coach debriefs

When you are fortunate enough to have a coach, it’s polite to arrive early for each practice outing; be ready to go with all your equipment and to listen carefully to coach instructions and the plan for the outing.  What about afterwards – we always recommend a debrief face to face in the boathouse with the coach after the boats are racked.  And remember to say ‘thank you’.  Most coaches are volunteers.

Make sure the boat works!

Make sure your boat is in proper working order before taking to the water,  and record its safe return in the club log book.

You call that clean?

Encourage members to leave a space even better than they found it. We don’t want puddles of water from the last boat causing the next guy in to slip and crack a hip! This rule touches on safety and aesthetics.

You are not a horse…

The obvious rule for youths is: No ‘horseplay’ of any kind is permitted. And that includes running. Discipline is part two of this rule. Rowing is highly team oriented, and as a club there should be little tolerance for unsafe, disruptive, discourteous, or unsportsmanlike behavior.

Silence is golden

One time where silence is necessary is when carrying the boat in and out of the shed.  Only one person (the coxswain or maybe the stroke) is allowed to talk.  This ensures everyone can hear their instructions and also that the athletes’ full attention is on the boat maneuvering so you don’t knock the oarlocks against other boats and mess up the pitch.

Clothing

Not a rule but a recommendation – clothing that fits close to the body, able to be layered for warmth in cooler weather and able to wick perspiration away in hot weather is ideal for rowing. Clothing made with Spandex, Polypro, CoolMax, or Drywick is best.   We also had a rule about winter clothing covering the torso.  A group of fashion-conscious junior girls wanted to row in rolled-up shirts that didn’t meet their rolled-down leggings which, in cold weather, is inappropriate.

For your club specifically…

Take a good look around your club and consider specifics, for instance:

  • Do you have automatic locking doors to protect your equipment? Add a rule that requires everyone to close the doors after they leave.
  • Do you have railings? Consider asking people (kids) not to sit on them. Avoid a fall.
  • Environmental awareness. We can make a difference individually and collectively, and requiring that lights are turned off when rooms are emptied not only saves energy but saves your monthly finances.  Or install motion-sensors that turn lights on when people move around inside the shed.

What do you consider to be the most important rule at your rowing club?