Safety should be top of mind during boat setup, while on the water, and when docking. Coxswains and rowers must follow the course rules and directions of the boathouse staff during practice and races.

The role of the coxswain

The coxswain plays a critical role in safety. The coxswain has a different perspective in the boat than the rowers and must put the safety of his or her crew, and other crews, first. It is critical that rowers listen to their coxswain during practices, races, and in emergency situations.

In case of an emergency, locate and sound the horn that is under the coxswain’s seat.


Because there are many boats on the water at the same time during practice, coxswains should steer down the pond on the north side (the side closest to the boathouse), complete a wide turn at the ladies or men’s buoys, and return on the south side of the pond. Take extra care when making the turn and at the top of the pond.

Turning the buoys

It is important to take extra caution when practicing turns. Crews must be aware that other teams may be practicing their turn around the buoys. Crews should never stop between buoys.

During a race, all crews approach and round their respective turning buoy on the south side of that buoy. A faster boat has the right of way into and out of its designated turning buoy. A slower boat cannot obstruct or interfere with another crew and may have to stop to allow the faster boat to finish its turn.

(See also Rules and Regulations – Race Course Operations (5.18)):

Flag status

The boathouse team determines if the boats should go out on the water depending on the weather and pond conditions. They will post the flag status on the homepage of the St. John’s Regatta website. The flag will also fly down by the pond.

Check the flag status on the website, facebook page, or at pond side to determine if you can practice on the pond (See also Rules and Regulations – Race Course Operations (4.3)):

Flag Status V2

Green flag Crews may practice on the full race course.

Yellow flag Crews may practice but should take caution. It may be best to practice on half of the course.

Red flag Crews may not practice.

On a yellow flag, inexperienced crews should consult with the boathouse staff before proceeding.

In the event of an accident

All crews are responsible for mitigating the risk of an accident between shells. Should an accident occur:

  1. The coxswain should sound their horn and immediately proceed to nearest shore.
  2. Crew members should remain calm, seated, and follow the directions of their coxswain or rescue team.
  3. Crew members remain seated in the shell at all times until directed to disembark, either at the boathouse wharf or shoreline.

The videos below demonstrate how the boat will react when it incurs damage.

Emergency situations

The Regatta committee created the following videos to demonstrate what happens to a boat that incurs damage and how the crew should proceed in an emergency situation. For demonstration purposes, they are rowing in boat that received damage and had a hole in the hull.

Video 1

In this video, the crew takes the patch off the hull and demonstrate how long it takes for the hull to submerge. Even though the hell is submerged, the crew is still able to row to shore (for demonstration purposes, they rowed directly back to the boathouse.)

Video 2

In this video, the crew is demonstrating that the crew is able to row even though the boat is full submerged.

Video 3

In this video, the crew rows directly to shore. This should be the first course of action if your boat incurs damage. The crew also demonstrates the correct procedure for disembarking from the boat.

Additional information regarding safety can be found on the Royal St. John;s Regatta Website Rules page.