Safety Boat

Providing safety and rescue cover for racing and training fleets

safety cover guidelines

Our lease states that we must provide safety cover when ever members are on the water. Our aim is to offer training and provide a high standard of cover for the safety of our members.

Poppy Smith

Safety Driver or Safety Crew

Learning to drive or help crew a safety boat is not just rewarding but is vital for providing safety and rescue cover for racing and training fleets and assisting in race management.

What's Involved

"How do I know which role is best for me -and what will I be doing?"

Here are some of the guidelines recommended by the Sailing Committee, but remember it is the responsibility of race officers to organise safety cover as they see fit for the conditions on the day and to always have a briefing with the safety team before racing:

Safety Cover Guidelines

• The race officer should liaise with the safety leader and hold a team briefing with all duty personnel before going on the
• On windy days the race officer to brief sailors on the conditions, particularly for novices who may not be aware of the conditions and their  imitations. This briefing could either be verbal or by using the white board in the clubhouse.
• The safety boat crew should familiarise themselves with the engine kill cord mechanism and check for correct operation during boat  preparation. The safety boat driver must wear a kill cord whenever the engine is in operation.
• The safety boat crew should check that the VHF radio is operating correctly (e.g. by performing test transmissions to other radio operators).
• Race officers to brief rescue crew to ask people to leave the water if they require a disproportionate amount of assistance which may put other sailors at risk.
• On windy days race officers should ask for volunteers if they require additional cover and not allow sailing until they are happy that there is adequate cover.
• On windy days and on all race days when there is only one rostered safety boat keep an additional safety boat moored on the jetty to be used in the event of an emergency. For instance if a squall hits the fleet and the rescue crew is stretched or in the event of mechanical failure. Other sailors can crew the spare boat and assist with rescue.
• Sailing Committee members should also be on hand to help and offer advice if required.
• In the event of a medical emergency on the water the casualty should be taken to the emergency drop-off point located at the main central slipway where a paramedic vehicle can gain access Safety is taken very seriously by the Club and we are always open to suggestions of how we can improve so please pass any feedback to a member of the Sailing or General Committee.

GP14 - GP14 Midland Open 2019

Safety Cover Traffic Light System

A “traffic light” system has been introduced to indicate the status of
safety boat cover. The colour of flags hoisted on the flagpole in front
of the clubhouse will indicate this as follows:
• A green flag indicates that a safety boat is ready and crewed.
Any boat may sail, but a boat’s decision to do so is hers alone.
• A yellow flag indicates that limited class racing or supervised
training is in progress. Boats other than those of the limited
class or those being supervised shall not sail.
• A red flag indicates that safety cover is not available. No boat
shall sail on the water and any boats already sailing when the
flag is hoisted must immediately return to the shore.
• No flag indicates that safety cover is not available. No boat shall
sail on the water.

Safety Boat Duty Top Tips

Safety Boat top tips for a safe and successful day on the water

1. Be prepared, make sure you have more clothing than you are likely to actually need, one of you must be prepared to enter the water.
2. Ensure you know before going afloat what the weather conditions are going to be.
3. Carry out checks on your power boat, fuel, tow rope, knife, radios working before going afloat, once afloat check the kill cord actually works by pulling the cord to check the engine
4. Make sure you are fully aware of who is using the water and what types of boats are sailing in the conditions on the day.
5. Write down the race course and identify the danger points, windward mark on lap one, gybe marks and areas where boats may cross as speed (reaches)
6. Armed with the knowledge you have from points 2 to 5, Carry out a safety briefing for the day, make sure everyone knows what is expected of each person in the safety team.
7. Maintain a good lookout at all times, 360 degree is possible , think about where you sit as crew on the PB.
8. Attend every capsize, do not ignore single handed boats that are quickly recovered, you must check that the sailor is free from injury and is not suffering cold or other ailments
following a capsize.
9. Maintain good communication between race officers and second safety boat, if you spot an incident in the sector of the other safety boat radio to make sure they have it covered.
10. Position yourself on the water where you can best attend quickly to incidents, when there are two boats on the water divide the water in two sectors and each boat manage a sector, be prepared to adjust your position if the other SB is engaged in a rescue.
11. Radio for help if you are struggling in any situation on the water, don’t delay in making decisions.


Guidance for safety crews

Procedures and guidance for Safety Crews

To improve the quality of safety cover the Club encourages all members volunteering to drive safety boats to take the RYA Powerboat Level 2 and Safety Boat qualifications. The Club frequently runs both courses. Note that 16-17 year olds can drive the safety boats only if they hold a level 2 Powerboat certificate and have an adult with them.
Remember that it will be much colder on the water than it is on shore. Wet suits or drysuits should be worn by safety drivers and crews at all times. You may have to go in the water to rescue someone.
Life Jackets – Personal Flotation Devices must be worn at all times.
On Arrival
Report to the OOD at least one hour before sailing is due to start as he will want to hold a briefing with the duty team.
Safety Boats will be launched from the boathouse and will normally be operated from the Club pontoon. In case of difficulty or lack of knowledge on operating details please ask for guidance from another club member or the OOD.
Safety Boat Preparation
1) Check that your rib has a radio or collect one from the charging cupboard. Make sure the radio works and try a radio check with another duty team person. Check that your rib has a knife and sealed safety equipment container. If the cable tie is broken check the contents and report it to the Bosun Team or OOD.
2) Before starting an engine:
a) Ensure that the isolator key is in place.
b) Check that the fuel tank is full. Obtain petrol from the petrol store. When filling up fuel tanks ensure that you have earthed yourself first. To do this, simply touch the ground near you and count to 3 slowly.
c) Connect fuel tank to fuel line and open the air vent.
d) To prime the engine, squeeze bulb in fuel line several times or until firm.
e) Lower engine and ensure there are no obstructions in the water near the propeller.
f) When first starting engine: ensure engine is in neutral, lift the neutral throttle lever, press in key and turn till engine runs (when engine is warm do not press in key), ease back throttle lever to reduce engine revs, check for water flow from the tell tale. If the flow is poor use another safety boat and report the fault to the OOD or Bosun Team.
g) Be prepared to launch a spare Safety Boat. An emergency safety team may be needed especially if it is very windy. It also provides cover in the event of an engine failure.

The crew for a Club Safety Boat is two. This is also the maximum that should be carried except in an emergency or for safety purposes. NO PASSENGERS, PARTICULARLY CHILDREN, ARE TO BE CARRIED.
When Afloat – Safety Boat Crewing and Handling
1. Adequate Cover. No sailing boat can go on the water until the OOD is satisfied the safety facilities are operational.
2. Speed. Except in an emergency operate the Safety Boat at a low speed with due regard to other water users. In light winds it is unnecessary to even have the engine running and your wake can affect racing.

3. Observation. Maintain a careful watch over all sailing craft and for signals from the shore. It is recommended that RIB crews sit back to back so that the field of view is maximised.
4. Positioning. Agree with the OOD and Coxswain of the other Safety Boat the sector which you will both operate. Radio communication using recommended call signs such as “safety 1, safety 1 this is safety 2, safety 2, over” is essential. Inform the rest of the team when you are attending a capsize and when back on station. Use the “touchline” positioning. One boat should be stationed at one side in the area of a gybe mark downwind and the other on the opposite side and in the upwind half of the course. As one attends a capsize the other moves to the centre line to cover.
5. Capsized Boats
If you see a capsized boat firstly count heads. Approach the boat quickly if you do not see the crew within 30 seconds. If you see the crew approach the boat slowly and hold well off until you establish whether they require assistance or you feel they are in danger. When coming alongside capsized craft or picking up people from the water put the engine into  neutral and SWITCH OFF. Persons in the water should be picked up over the side of the boat, with their face towards the Safety Boat.


6. Whilst the OOD is in overall charge, you are in sole charge in a rescue situation. If the water is cold and the person in the water is obviously struggling – you have the right to insist he comes aboard the Safety Boat.
7. Approach. If you need to come alongside a dinghy or jetty do so from downwind and with the dinghy on the opposite side to your controls. If you need to help right a dinghy by lifting the mast approach the front of the mast between the tip and the spreaders with your crew on the bow of the safety boat.
8. Physical Assistance to Racing Boats – It is no longer the case that giving physical assistance to a racing boat automatically disqualifies that boat and her crew from the race. So long as you do not actually advance that boat’s position in the race, it is now OK to pick up a crew member who has fallen overboard and return them to their boat, or to help free a masthead from the bottom of the reservoir.
8. Coming Ashore. Approach slowly, lifting the engine in good time, though this is not normally necessary at the jetty.
9. At the end of the day:

a) Return the boats to the boat house.
b) Hose down safety craft.
c) Return hand-held radios to cupboard in boathouse and charge.
d) Disconnect the petrol feed pipe and leave over transom.
e) Return petrol cans to petrol store.
f) Return isolator keys to the cupboard in boathouse.
g) Report any problems to the OOD or Bosun Team.

PB2 Powerboat Training

Find out about our PB2 powerboat training courses

RYA Safety Boat Training

Following on from PB2 this is a great course to build your safety boat skills