Taken from “Rules and Guidelines for Safe Use of the River Clyde by Rowing Clubs” (1999)

Rowing and Sculling, are by their nature, outdoor activities, taking place on the waterways of the natural environment, and as such, are subject to the impact of the prevailing water and weather conditions.

It goes without saying that safety is of paramount importance to participation in rowing, and safe behaviour should be embraced as part of the sport, not as a constraint. As summarised in the Scottish Rowing Water Safety Code – “Safe enjoyment is the aim, not foolhardiness”.

Guidance for clubs and individuals as to what constitutes safe rowing behaviour is provided by the Scottish Rowing in the form of the Water Safety Code. Rowing on the Clyde is also governed by the River Clyde Rowing Rules, below. All rowers and coaches should make themselves aware of these rules and the associated Guidelines and abide by them at all times – safety on the river is the responsibility of all individuals, from novice to chief coach.

Rowing on the Clyde takes place under the watchful eye of Mr George Parsonage, MBE, the Officer of the Glasgow Humane Society. Should you have any further queries regarding rowing safety, the website of the Glasgow Humane Society is a useful resource, or you may wish to direct your questions to George in person at the GHS house, opposite St Andrew’s Footbridge, on Glasgow Green.

River Clyde Rowing Rules

The rules as stated below, are reproduced from the document “River Rules and Guidelines for safe use of the River Clyde by Rowing Clubs” produced by the Glasgow Humane Society.

Rules of the Clyde

Rowing is recommended, in the interest of safety, to take place only between the Tidal Weir at Glasgow Green and the top of the straight which runs past Westhorn Park (known as the Belvidere Straight).

  1. River users should recognise their responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others. Due regard should be taken of the Safety Rules and Guidelines.
  2. Boating is not allowed without the presence and authorisation of a Committee member (or in the case of the schools, a Rowing Master), except for those members granted dispensation by the Committee.
  3. Boats should keep to the left at all times (i.e. when rowing upstream stay on the north bank and downstream on the south bank). See Guideline No. 8
  4. Boats must only be launched and landed from a recognised landing stage. Visitors must seek permission from the relevant club before launching.
  5. All boats shall be responsible for their own steering. If there is danger of a collision, boats should stop.
  6. Boats must be water worthy and comply with safety regulations.
  7. All coxes must wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, suited to the boat when on the water. This must be the outermost garment worn.
  8. All crews and scullers must be able to swim in accordance with the Scottish Rowing guidelines. See Guideline No.12
  9. All coaches should carry a rescue bag or throw rope
  10. Boats shall not go afloat in adverse water or weather conditions.
  11. No boat shall be on the water in bad visibility or the hours between dusk and dawn.
  12. There will be no standing or changing of seats in boats except at club landing stages.
  13. Coxes must be able to see beyond the bow of their boat.
  14. Boats should not stop, turn or overtake on a bend under a bridge, or immediately upstream of a bridge.
  15. Beginners should not boat unsupervised.
  16. All rowers and coxes should make themselves aware of obstacles on the river, the position of which should be marked on a map on display in the Clubhouse.
  17. Fences and gates at club compounds should be kept secure at all times. River users should inform the appropriate authorities (the Glasgow Humane Society or the Police) if they observe anyone in a dangerous position.
  18. Clubs should ensure that the Police and other appropriate authorities have names and telephone numbers of members who can be called out in the event of an emergency.
  19. All appropriate authorities and river users should be informed where possible of any regatta or other event planned for the river.
  20. Agreed safety practices must be employed at all regatta and other events taking place on the river.
  21. All visitors to the river and clubs must abide by these rules.
  22. It is accepted that in some emergency situations, it may be impossible to comply with these rules.


  1. Know where the safety notice board is located and read it
  2. Know the location the First Aid Equipment. The names of persons qualified in First Aid should be posted on club noticeboards
  3. In an emergency telephone 999, these calls do not need money or cards. While it is hoped that a mobile telephone would be available at the clubhouse, and that coaches/trainers would carry a mobile phone, emergency calls can be made from the following places; Parks and Recreation at Greendyke Street (during working hours), Tidal Weir (south side) 24hrs, Glasgow Humane Society House at St Andrews Suspension Bridge (not always available). In the event of an emergency upstream of Glasgow Green there are no places in the immediate vicinity where a telephone is available. In these cases where assistance is required, on would head for the nearest bridge and flag down a vehicle preferably a bus or a taxi with a radio, or to the nearest house.
  4. Lifebelts and ropes should be on each clubhouse door and must not be removed except for emergency use. Throw ropes should be available and should be carried by trainers/coaches or other persons going up the towpath.
  5. Boats should be launched with their bows facing in accordance with the circulation pattern and should return to the steps also in that direction (i.e. make a loop)
  6. It is advisable that once boated you head upstream of your clubhouse so that in the event of capsizing you are drifting towards your boathouse and not away from it, towards the weir. This is especially relevant when there is stream flowing or when the weir gates are open, especially if your boathouse is on the last 500m straight.
  7. While rowers keep to the left, not every river user may abide by this rule and the safe practice is to keep a look out and if in doubt stop
  8. Boats going upstream should use the north arch of all bridges and keep to the north bank. Boats coming downstream should use the south arch of all bridges with the exception of Rutherglen Bridge, where the centre arch has to be used coming downstream. Boats, which are practicing racing downstream, may with extreme care, use the centre arches of bridges. Crews going upstream whether doing a training piece or not must not tend towards the centre of the river. When proceeding upstream boats should only overtake when the course is completely clear, whether coxed or coxless
  9. There are lifejackets that can be worn in aqua-jogs. There are also bumbag lifejackets that can be worn by rowers and scullers even when racing. For individuals who are in the habit of sculling distances on their own, it would be a good idea to purchase one.
  10. In the event of capsize do not leave your boat. Hang onto the boat, shout for help, and try to propel yourself and boat towards the bank. Be ready to catch a throwing line.
  11. Ensure that your boat is safe for going out in. If in doubt ask a senior member or the attendant committee member. if you discover equipment not to be in a safe condition, please report the damage and do not use the equipment until it has been repaired. If damaged a note should be left on the boat to warn other members as to the boat condition. Examples: -all boats must have a bow ball for your own protection and if you see a boat on the river without one you should report this to a committee member. All canvases must be watertight, as should bungholes. Heel restraints must be attached.
  12. All rowers and scullers must be able to swim in accordance with the Scottish Rowing safety guidelines and be prepared to demonstrate this in a swimming pool on the request of the safety advisor. It is recommended that persons joining a club, which is a School or University with a swimming pool and resident swimming coach, should be confirmed to the above standard by the coach.
  13. A rescue craft, which could be a tub pair or and aqua-jog, should, when practical, be in readiness at the clubhouse.
  14. The main purpose of the cox is safety. The cox should learn and use simple commands for boat control both on and off the water. They should use them correctly, clearly and instinctively and understand the basic commands and signals of other river users. Inexperienced coxes should firstly go out with experienced crews. Inexperienced coxes never go out with inexperienced/beginner crews. To ensure safe passage and steering of the boat the cox must be able to see what is in front of their boat.
  15. The coach should ask if everyone in their charge is aware of the appropriate safety procedures. Caution must be taken when the weir gates are open as when the tide turns the current can increase three-fold making conditions that seemed fair when commencing your outing, treacherous. Tide Tables should be posted on the notice board and a committee member consulted if in doubt. The best rule is that when there is a strong current on the water try to plan an outing to finish before high tide (before the tide turns).
  16. In the interest of personal safety and prevention of damage to boats, assistance should be sought and given when boats are leaving or returning to the steps.
  17. All river uses should be aware of possible diseases that can be contracted in the waters that the club uses.

Note. The City Council would encourage river users to report anyone seen committing crimes or engaging in anti-social behaviour on the river banks to the police (eg. throwing objects at rowers).