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How To: Not get Fined

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At some point in your rowing career, you will have had to deal with fines. Any member of the OURCs committee can impose fines if they see a crew breaking the rules. It is often questioned why we issue fines, or if we have anything else better to do. The fact is that a lot of the time, crews break rules that inconvenience others, or put people's safety at risk.

Sadly, being told 'don't do that again' is not enough of an incentive, and so fines are necessary. All fine money now goes to the University Squads, so it is not in the financial interests of OURCs to issue them. If you've ever wondered why we enforce the quiet zone so strictly in a morning, it's because similar complaints in Cambridge have led to their rules stipulating that cox boxes must not be used on a certain stretch of the river. If we see someone cycling along the towpath on Saturday of Summer Eights, it's a £50 fine without question. There are normally one or two bicycle-related injuries during bumps, and if this involves colliding with a member of the public, the consequences are very severe. The rules are in place and enforced to show that we can regulate ourselves - so that higher bodies do not need to step in and put draconian restrictions in place.

The truth is that most fines come from the same few repeated rule breaks. If your club can avoid breaking them, it's very unlikely that you will get fined. Even then, the escalating fines system means that a £10 fine is only issued for the second offence of a certain type.

It's also important to remember that most fines are suspended until 5th week of Michaelmas term - this is to allow new committees to get used to the rules and allow the occasional slip-up to go unpunished. However, racing and administrative fines are not suspended.

Here's a list of the most common rule breaks and how to avoid falling foul of them:

Training Fines:

  • Insufficient lights (2.6.9) - Any boat which is out in low-visiblity or low light conditions, and all boats on the water during Twilight Hours, must have bright white lights such that boat is visible through 360 degrees. One should be attached to the bow and the other to the stern - not the bowman and cox! Red lights are not acceptable, as red and green lights refer to port & starboard. Lights should be visible from at least 100m - lights with dying batteries are useless. Buy 6 ultra-bright lights from anywhere - Amazon is rather cheap for this - and buy a large supply of batteries - at least 60 per term. Remember to take lights off of your boat when you have finished your outing, otherwise you'll drain the batteries.
  • Obstructing other crews while spinning (2.8.6) - Please see the other HowTo guide about spinning at Longbridges. The other way to get fined is to cut the queue and spin anywhere you like - it is only fair that crews wait for their turn.
  • Coaching at the spinning area (2.8.6d) - Crews should not stop and be coached in the spinning area. This is particularly troublesome at Haystacks, since the stream is pulling you further downstream. If you are certain that there are no other crews, you may get coached. However, you must be spun and ready to row on as soon as the next crew arrives.
  • Spinning badly under blue/amber flag (2.8.7b and c) - Two main things here. Spinning at Longbridges under blue flag is forbidden. Crews should also spin before Haystacks corner under blue flag, as the corner is blind and the hesitation caused by crews not quite knowing where other crews are will result in people drifting towards the weir.

Racing Fines:

  • Poor circulation (A1.4.1b) - Our circulation patterns for racing are designed to prevent collisions between racing crews and allow river traffic clear passage throught the course between races. Breaking circulation is a serious safety issue and therefore we fine heavily for it. Get your coxes to carefully look at the circulation pattern on the event page on the OURCs website the day before and memorise it.
  • Late to the start (A1.5.8) - Crews must be on time to the start, or delays mount up rapidly. If you are unsure of the ability and speed of your crew, aim to be in place 5 minutes early. If you are late, the start will be delayed and you will be fined at least £25. Senior Umpires also have the right to start the race even if you are not in place - in which case, much more severe penalties will be applied.
  • Inappropriate cyclists (A1.4.1d) - crews may only have one bankrider with them; and for bumps races they must be wearing an appropriate bib; blue for boys' divisions, and green for girls' divisions. Surplus bankriders will incur severe penalties. Additionally, any person cycling along the towpath during Saturday of Eights will automatically get fined £50, without question. Collisions between high-speed coaches and members of the public will put the future of racing in jeopardy, so just don't do it.