Club Rules

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Within these next pages the following definitions are used:

  • BC: British Canoeing
  • 1* / 2* / 3* / 4*: the relevant pre-2019 BC star award
  • L1 / L2: pre-2019 BC Level 1 or BC Level 2 coach qualification
  • MWE: pre-2019 Moderate Water Endorsement
  • MW: Moderate Water
  • SW: Sheltered Water
  • WWSR: White Water Safety and Rescue award
  • 'Group size' where used includes the leaders / coaches and refers to number of persons not number of boats (e.g. a double kayak is two persons)
  • BC introduced some new terminology in 2019. Some of the personal awards are not direct equivalents of earlier star awards. Coaching qualifications are also not direct equivalents of previous qualifications. This is explained further below.

Coach / Leader Responsibility

The role of the Club officials is to establish appropriate rules and procedures for Club activities including paddling on Home Waters and on Away Waters. Officials are often not present on individual trips or activities and cannot practically make real-time decisions whether a paddling activity should proceed or not. Additionally, Club officials are typically administrative volunteers who may be less qualified or experienced than Club members, coaches or leaders who are on site at the given activity.

The Club therefore explicitly notes and delegates that the Coaches and/or Leaders overseeing a paddling activity are responsible for all on-site decision making in relation to that activity, subject to these Rules. If Coaches, Leaders or members choose to disregard some or all of these Rules, and it can-not be reasonably concluded that such deviation was in the interests of improving the safety of the activity, the activity automatically becomes a Private trip. The environment that Coaches and Leaders operate needs to be appropriate according to their skills and qualifications. They need to ensure that paddlers in their group are at the appropriate level of skill for the activity and environment.

Special rules during the COVID19 pandemic

Members should refer to the special rules and procedures which apply.

Rule Categories

Different rules apply for home waters, away waters and private trips. Greater familiarity with specific risks in home waters allows a different set of rules.

Home waters

Home waters are:

  • the entire Shadwell Basin; and
  • a predefined section of the tidal Thames

The Shadwell Basin is classified as very sheltered water.

The predefined section of the tidal Thames is the stretch of river centred on the Shadwell Pierhead and covering the area from Greenwich Pier to Westminster Bridge.

  • Downstream of the Shadwell Pierhead is classified as moderate water under normal weather and tide conditions
  • Downstream of the Shadwell Pierhead is classified as advanced water under adverse weather or tide conditions
  • Upstream of the Shadwell Pierhead is classified as advanced water under all weather and tide conditions
  • At nil tide downstream includes the upstream section as far as the Wapping river police station

Away waters

Away waters are:

  • all waters which are not home waters.

Depending on the environment, i.e. white water, sea etc., specific rules and procedures apply as detailed further within these Rules.

Private trips

Private trips are:

  • any trip or activity not specifically covered by these Rules

Private trips are carried out by members in their individual capacity and entirely at their own risk. Neither the Club nor any Club officials accept liability for actions, failures or consequences of or to members when on private trips. Private trips should be marked as such on the website forum or other communication. No private trip may take place in home waters during normal (Tuesday) Club hours, i.e. during Club hours all activities on home waters are considered Club activities.

General Provisions

All Coaches and Leaders acting in that capacity on behalf of the Club must hold the appropriate BC coaching / leadership award and be a valid BC coach / leader, which includes:

  • having a current BC membership
  • holding a valid first aid certificate
  • having completed safeguarding training (as required by BC)

An L1 Coach / PaddleSport Instructor working independently (that is, not under supervision by a more senior coach or not in tandem with one or more additional coaches) must in addition:

  • have received appropriate site-specific training

A Paddle Sport Instructor can provide taster / starter sessions after being deployed by a more experienced coach. Any coach working independently with children (for example, assisting the Basin with a session), must:

  • have passed a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

Where an L1 coach / PaddleSport Instructor proposes to lead a trip away from home waters in accordance with these rules, he/she must submit a trip plan to a relevant L2 or higher coach.

Experience-Based Validation

In order to actively lead or coach a group in accordance with these Rules, a member needs to additionally satisfy an experience requirement. Members wishing to lead / coach groups should complete the Experience Validation Form and submit it to the Committee via the training officer.

The Experience Validation Form can be found [here]

By exception a paddler not holding the specified Coaching Level, Star award or relevant BC qualification may be considered as equivalently qualified on the basis of their experience. The Club also recognises that paddlers holding foreign qualification or otherwise not certificated by British Canoeing may nevertheless be suitably qualified to paddle on the tidal Thames home waters. Experience validations will be reviewed annually and a member may be required to resubmit for assessment if considered necessary.

Environment-Specific Requirements

Some Club rules are stricter than BC recommendations; this is deliberate

The links below define the minimum requirement needed in each box:

Providers of the 2019 BCU awards

Paddle Awards Minimum qualification that can deliver the award Minimum qualification holders that can work towards becoming a provider
Paddle Start Any qualified Instructor / Coach / Leader / Raft Guide / Bell Boat Helm N/A
Paddle Discover Any qualified Instructor / Coach / Leader / Raft Guide / Bell Boat Helm N/A
Paddle Explore Min: BCU Level 3 Coach / BC (UKCC) L2 Coach/BC Coach Award Min: BCU Level 2 Coach / BC (UKCC) Level 1 / BC Paddlesport Instructor