BRASS Safety Rules

Harassment Policy

Berkshire Rowing And Sculling Society (BRASS) is committed to providing a respectful sport environment by promoting the prevention and prompt resolution of harassment. All members and employees of BRASS have the right to be treated fairly, respectfully and with dignity in an environment free of harassment. To this end, BRASS has a zero tolerance policy toward harassment.
It is expected that all club members will consistently display high ethical standards and project a favorable image of our sport to participants, coaches, officials, spectators, the media, and the general public.
Read the Harassment Policy [hyperlink]

Travel Code of Conduct

All rowers under the age of 18 planning to travel with the club must read and sign, with their guardian, the BRASS Travel Code of Conduct document before being allowed to travel.
Read the Travel Code of Conduct [hyperlink]

Payment of fees

Fees must be paid in advance, immediately upon billing or rowers may be denied water access.

Safety Video

The US Rowing Safety Video promotes and demonstrates safe practices for rowers.
All rowers, regardless of experience, must watch the US Rowing Safety Video before going on the water.


Safety Rules and Regulations

The following pages outline the safety rules that apply to all members of BRASS and those who use the BRASS facilities. Strict enforcement of the BRASS safety rules is the duty and responsibility of every BRASS member. Failure to follow the BRASS Safety Rules may result in disciplinary action and/or suspension of club privileges.

  • The BRASS Boathouse Manager shall have the final say in matters related to rowing times, safety, and equipment maintenance and usage.  If the Manager is not present, the boathouse staff person on duty will assume this responsibility.
  • All rowers must attest annually the ability to swim and to don a personal flotation device (PFD) while on the water. Those aged 18 and over can indicate on the registration form their ability to swim; those under 18 need signature of a parent or guardian, or must take a swim-test. A list of non-swimmers should be kept at the boathouse. Non-swimmers must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when in a boat.
  • Each rower, safety boat operator, and coach must ensure that the equipment under his/her control is in safe operating condition.
  • Prior to commencing rowing each year, all rowers and coaches shall review the US Rowing safety video (see link above).
  • Each rower shall be instructed as to the location of safety equipment in the boathouse including telephone, emergency numbers, first aid kits, and lifejackets.

Launch Times

  • Rowing after dark is not permitted at any time of the year.
  • The start and end of the season will be announced each year by the BRASS Trustees.
  • All rowing shells and safety boats must have some form of safety lighting when rowing before sunrise.
  • Prior to May 15th and after September 15, rowers will wear a properly fastened personal floatation device.

Rowing in Hot Weather

  • Maintain a high fluid level. Drink water before leaving the dock and frequently while on the water.
  • Avoid sunburn by using sunscreen, with a sweatband or hat to keep lotion out of eyes.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Plan activity level consistent with the degree of heat and humidity.

Traffic Patterns

  • Scullers and bow seat rowers will be instructed to follow traffic patterns dictated by boathouse manager. Further, areas for safe haven during unexpected bad weather and emergency procedures will be reviewed annually.
  • Make sure that you are aware of the local traffic patterns and rules on the water.
  • Familiarize yourself with shallow water, stumps, rocks, seasonal problems and landmarks.
  • The bow seat rower and single sculler should make frequent checks on both sides. Listen for oncoming traffic.
  • Be courteous to others on the water. Be aware of powerboats and treat them with respect.

Adverse Weather

  • In the event of windy or foggy weather, the decision to put boats on the water will be made by the BRASS Boathouse Manager.  In the event the Manager is not present, this responsibility shall be assumed by the boathouse staff person on duty.
  • NO boats will be allowed on the water if lightning threatens.  If rowers are on the water when lightning is spotted on the horizon, they will immediately head for the nearest safe haven, or BRASS boathouse if time permits.
  • Do not row in whitecaps or winds of 12 knots or higher under any circumstances.
  • Do not row in fog unless your visibility to shore is as least 100 yards. Be sure to have land reference points. If fog sets in while you are on the water, move slowly, be prepared to stop quickly and return to the boathouse

First Aid

  • First aid kits are available in the BRASS boathouse.  When travelling at regattas, a first aid kit will be included with equipment being transported.  Athletes are expected to provide their own supplies for routine first aid, including care of blisters.

Fire and Emergency

  • In case of fire or emergency, call 911 using boathouse phone or a cell phone.  The club address is Lake Onota, Burbank Park, South Parking Lot, Valentine Rd., Pittsfield, MA.

Addendum to Safety Precautions

All coaches and rowers must be knowledgeable about the safety rules and their responsibilities.


Coaches must ensure that:

  • The safety precautions are strictly followed.
  • Before launching, each coach boat must be equipped with adequate gasoline; a paddle; and a bailer.
  • The coach boat motor is started to ensure proper operation before the crew leaves the dock.
  • Each rower and coxswain reviews the USRA safety video before commencing rowing each year.
  • Each rower is dressed properly for the weather conditions.
  • Each crew receives special instructions in the event a shell capsizes or swamps, namely:
  • Do not allow the rowers to leave the shell.
  • Do not allow the oars to float away as they can be used for flotation.
  • When in the water and the boat capsizes, the rowers “pair up”, i.e. 1 and 2, 3 and 4, etc., with the bow pair or stern pair, as applicable.
  • Do not thrash around and panic since excessive activity will lead to loss of body heat.
  • His/her crew is never out of sight.
  • There is no “horseplay” on the water.
  • The equipment under his/her control is in a safe condition.  This includes checking all shells prior to rowing to ensure there are no cracks, that all are equipped with bow balls and have easy release footstraps.
  • Any damage or faulty equipment is reported to the Boathouse Manager and if a shell is not rowable, a note is left on the shell to prevent its use.
  • Coaches must possess a current and valid CPR / First Aid certification.


Rowers must ensure that:

  • They are familiar with the safety precautions.
  • They know traffic patterns.
  • They remain calm in the event of trouble..
  • They always watch for changing weather conditions and proceed to the dock or to the shoreline in the event of threatening weather (lightning, high winds, sudden change in wind or water conditions.)
  • They exercise good seamanship (i.e. turning in windy or rough water, rowing into the wind at not less than a 45 degree angle [quartering] etc.
  • They ensure the equipment under their control is in safe condition (i.e. ensure oarlocks properly fastened, there are no holes in the decking that may allow water in, that shoes are tied loosely with the heel tied down to allow for quick release, etc.)
  • Remember they may be required to assist their coach in the event of an accident involving the coach boat (i.e. coach falling overboard.)