We introduced the TRC Tideway Steering Certificate in 2008 to improve the standard of steering at Thames. The Steering Certificate has five levels and is split into three skills – coxing, sculling (1x and 2x) and foot steering (4x, 2-, 4-) – which are tested separately, so reaching Level 3 as a cox does not necessarily mean you are of Level 3 standard in a scull, and vice versa!
Your level dictates what conditions you can go out in, and what level of coaching you need in those conditions. This is summarised in the table below. For more details about each level, please see the details underneath the table.
1 to 1
|Dark or 2 x Difficult||
|Dark + Difficult||
Before getting in a boat, all coxes and athletes MUST have completed their membership application form. This process includes reading an introductory leaflet on safety and signing a box to confirm that you have read and understood it, and that you are able to swim 400m lightly clothed. You should have been handed a copy along with your membership form, but if not an electronic copy can be downloaded here. If you want to steer a boat (including learning to scull), then you need to get started on the Steering Certificate at Level 0.
Level 0 is the very first step on your steering journey, and you need to do this before you steer a Thames boat for the first time, even if you’ve got lots of experience at another club or on another bit of river. It’s only reading, so you can do it in your own time, and please do take your time so that you really understand all of it. If you have any questions, just drop us an email on email@example.com
In order to be certified at Level 0, you need to read the following documents:
Thames Rowing Club Safety Summary
“Rowing on the Tideway” Code of Practice
ARA “Row Safe” Leaflet
“Lessons For Rowers” from the Dove Pier Incident (main body only)
“Coxing for beginners” (coxes and those new to the sport only)
You should also watch this video which shows how to do the emergency stop described in the the Safety Summary:
Once you have read and understood all the above documents, please click HERE to email the Safety Committee to confirm this. You will then receive an invite to join the safety mailing list (please check your junk folder), and will be able to steer club boats.
At Level 0, you may only go out in good conditions, on a one-on-one coach-to-crew basis.
Level 1 will consist of a multiple choice test sat at the club and supervised by an approved tester. To take the test, please contact any of the Club Rowing Safety Advisers who will put you in touch with a suitable tester. Steers and coxes will also need to have completed the online basic risk assessment module on RowHow and emailed the certificate to firstname.lastname@example.org before being listed as level 1.
At Level 1, you may go out in good conditions as part of a coached group of boats. You may also go out in “Difficult Conditions” on a one-on-one coached basis, but only after performing a risk assessment with your coach before the outing.
You will need to develop the skill of doing your own risk assessments right from your first outing. “Difficult Conditions” count as any one of:
- high stream;
- high wind;
- poor visibility (e.g. mist or heavy rain);
- extremes of temperature;
- beginner rowers;
- the area downriver of Wandsworth Bridge.
Assessment for Level 2 is done by your coach, who must be approved by the club representative safety adviser. For a novice steers or someone not used to the Tideway, you must have completed a minimum of five supervised outings to be certified at this level and the time it takes you to reach Level 2 will be largely dependent on your knowledge and experience both of the sport and of the Tideway (if you have not steered previously, a much higher number would be expected over a period of many months). However, it is important to keep simple records of all your outings and ask your coach to sign your log book straight after every outing – the Safety Committee might ask to see this. This can be electronic or part of your training diary.
Note that this level 2 status is awarded separately for coxing, foot steering and sculling.
A brief summary of the required competencies for Level 2 include the following, but the deciding factor is that steers or coxes must be competent to go out alone in good conditions:
- Sign the boat out, get the boat out of the boat house safely across the road and onto the water, having checked the heel restraints, bow ball and hatch covers, and completed any adjustments on the bank before pulling out;
- Steer the boat on a curved course round a bend a consistent distance from the bank;
- Steer to port and starboard on request using either rudder and/or pressure of blades/sculls;
- Successfully execute an emergency stop as per the Thames Rowing Club Safety Summary and the video above;
- Turn 90 degrees on the spot;
- Back it down;
- Get the boat into the boat house safely across the road, off the water and washed down, and signed in.
Your coach will be asked to fill in the attached form to certify your compentency.
At Level 2 you may:
- Go out in good conditions without a coach
- Go out in Difficult Conditions as part of a coached group of boats
- Go out in two Difficult Conditions occurring together with a one-on-one coach
- Go out in the dark with a one-on-one coach
Level 3 – Advanced
Coaches should recommend steers for Level 3 based on the quality of their steering and their level of experience. All steers must have completed sufficient Tideway outings, including at least three in the dark (unless they are willing to have a daylight only limitation), before sitting this test (no GPS evidence is necessary). Assessment for Level 3 is by oral assessment with a member of the Safety Committee. Please contact us on email@example.com to arrange your assessment.
The oral assessment will involve the need to be able to identify all the hazards between Richmond and Wandsworth (a list of these can be found here), scenario-based questions and risk assessment scenarios. An area-limited Level 3 may be given where hazards between Kew and Putney bridges can be identified. Those with an area-limited Level 3 may only be considered Level 3 between those points.
At Level 3 you may:
- Go out in good or Difficult Conditions without a coach
- Go out in two Difficult Conditions occurring together as part of a coached group of boats
- Go out in the dark as part of a coached group of boats
- Go out in the dark plus one other Difficult Condition (e.g. dark and windy) with a one-on-one coach
It is important to remember that even if you are certified to go out in a certain set of conditions, you do not have to go out in them. For example, you might be a level 3 cox who normally coxes a men’s 8. You might have done all your assessments to get to your Level 3 in that crew, and would be perfectly happy to take them out on your own in difficult conditions. One day, a coach asks you to take a women’s 4+ out when it’s really windy, as he has to take out a less experienced cox one-on-one. You know your men’s 8 would be fine in the wind, but you don’t know the girls in the 4+. You don’t know how strong they are, how experienced they are, or what skill level they are. You need to perform your own risk assessment of the outing and decide if you can take the crew out safely.
The TRC Tideway Steering Certificate is not designed to replace a full risk assessment of every outing – IF IN DOUBT, DON’T GO OUT!
Level 4 – Expert
To take this test, you must have carried out an extensive number of Tideway outings over several months, including at least 10 in the dark. These outings should be GPS tracked and the tracks submitted on line before being brought to the test.
The practical test will examine the theory covered in the Level 2 and 3 tests, and consist of a minimum of two outings (one at high and one at low tide) observed by an approved member of the Safety Committee or alternative assessor.
The outings should demonstrate your ability to steer in a variety of conditions and may include (but are not limited to) high tide, low tide, busy weekend mornings and an outing in the dark. There will also be time for feedback and discussion with the member of the Safety Committee who observed your outings.
At Level 4 you may:
- Go out in good, Difficult or two Difficult Conditions occurring together without a coach
- Go out in the dark without a coach
- Go out in the dark plus one other Difficult Condition (e.g. dark and windy) as part of a coached group of boats