[CUCBC Coxes] Fwd: Flags and other issues

Thomas Walton cuwbc at cucbc.org
Mon Oct 20 10:23:32 BST 2008

[Please read the below message from Pete Convey carefully - it
contains many important points to note.]

Dear all

inevitably the first use of a flag has created a deluge of questions
and complaints. Somewhat frustratingly, this happens every year and I
will try to deal with several issues in one go:

1) As has been stated explcitly several times now, the flag status is
given ONLY ON THE WEBSITE, there is no longer a physical flag. This
avoids the problem repeatedly experienced previously of the web and
actual flags being different, and can be changed more rapidly as does
not require a person to have access to any boathouse in order to
change a real flag. Committee members cannot be expected to be by the
river permanently.

2) We use red and yellow flags not because we think a single
experienced crew can't handle the current conditions (extremely
unusual on the Cam), but because of the inherent risks associated with
an over busy river and many crews of widely different standards doing
different things being out at the same time. Note that this means the
flag status may change during the day even if the conditions don't (eg
red early morning may change to yellow after 0900, reflecting the much
reduced pressure on the river)

3) the flag is a 'blunt instrument' - we are well aware conditions can
vary along the river, and can change rapidly. There may not be a
committee member in place to change the flag status the instance this
might be required, while any such change is also inevitably a
judgement call. With or without a flag being used, it is YOUR
RESPONSIBILITY each time you go out to assess whether the conditions
are appropriate for YOUR crew - if not, do not go out, and if they
worsen during an outing then change your plans and return to the
boathouse. Note that, as the person responsible for the control of the
boat, the cox has final say at the point of boating.

4) Questions have been asked about the eligibility of fours under flag
conditions, since the rule concerned is based on numbers of Mays
eights in the top division (for women) or top two divisions (for men).
Common sense to me says that fours should be eligible if their crew
members are drawn from what would be eligible eights (ie for most
clubs this will mean two fours will be eligible), and this
interpretation will be in place with immediate effect. Again, it is
YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to assess the conditions and ability of any given
crew at the point of boating. I am discussing with the committee
whether and how we should suggest to captains a change in the wording
of this rule, and also whether we should now move to make eligibility
the same for both men and women.

5) Note that, under consultation with CUCBC, events may still be
permitted to run on yellow and even red flagged days. This is because
control of crews is very different throughout events, with limited
numbers of crews boating at any given time, all doing the same thing,
generally of a similar standard, and with the river under control of
event marshalls.

6) Boating in contravention of flags will result in fines but,
obviously, if the crew concerned was already out when the flag status
changed it won't be fined. Given the way reports are sent to us, this
may mean cancelling a fine on appeal, once we can investigate the

7) Fines - contrary to popular belief, our intention is not issue as
many fines as possible! Fines are issued for various rule
infringements. These may be witnessed and reported by people with an
'official' role (marshalls, committee members, certain other 'senior'
river users), or are reported to us by someone involved in the actual
incident, or any other third party. In order to fine or penalise on
the latter two categories, we need to investigate the report and in
particular try to obtain an independent verification. This can be
remarkably difficult, and many incidents come down to opposing 'he
says - she says' debates, which cannot be resolved. This is all too
often the case in incidents that simply involve two college crews,
with the disagreeing witnesses being simply themselves and their
coaches and boatmen (I'm sure all have seen this type of incident,
where in reality both parties are often equally to blame!).

8) It is very clear that only a small minority of rule infringements
ever come to our attention. There is no possibility of anything else -
committee members are volunteers, not a full time police force (and
have no intention of being one). The basic principle that all clubs,
crews, coaches should follow, for the good of everyone, is that the
rules of the river (as enforced by various bodies on different clubs,
in Cambridge - ourselves, the Conservancy and the CRA) are there for
the common good, and everyone is best served by trying to follow them.

I'm sorry this is a long message, but please read it and do your best
to put it into practice!


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