IWL D decision making

PostIWL D decision making
AuthorIan Maconnachie
Posted At13:27, 6th Feb 2017
89 weeks ago
Hi all,

I think a few clubs are likely to query what happened in the run up to IWL D at the weekend that caused us to make a decision so late, so I figured I'd just explain it here.

The first and most important thing to mention is the Risk Assessment - we are bound by this. The Risk Assessment allows racing to go ahead on Amber flag, distinguishing between high and low stream. The RA, however, does not let us race at all on Red flag. So whilst the river was at Red flag the *only* definitive decision we could have made would have been to cancel. The river only changed to Amber flag at 11am on Sunday.

On Saturday morning we were on Red flag, however the lock-keeper did come down and change things. In the afternoon we were at 4 gates and 15" on the Stoney weir, which corresponds to 5.25 bucks. For those that aren't aware of how the bucks are calculated, each gate is 1 buck, and each 12" on the Stoney weir is 1 buck. At that stage we did not know whether or not the lock-keeper intended to shut any more in the next day. For anyone who happened to be watching the river levels it was clear that the river was dropping slowly.

Our initial impression was that, whilst it was unlikely to drop enough, there was good chance that the lock-keeper may close in more in time for racing on Sunday. He wouldn't need to close in much - just half a buck would have been enough. Despite attempts to try to ascertain the lock-keepers intentions, we were unable to get enough information on Saturday, and the river level continued to drop. Had the river been rising (as we thought it might given the rain on Friday) we would have cancelled at that point (lunchtime on Saturday), but with the river still falling there was an increasing chance of it going ahead. We discussed it and made the decision to hold off on making a final decision until the next day.

Had we have made a decision at that point, as mentioned above, we would have had no choice but to cancel - the river was still Red, and we had no concrete indication of whether or not more would close in on Sunday. I understand that some clubs would have preferred that we did this than wait to make a decision. We prioritised running the event over allowing crews to make outing plans.

Had we have cancelled on Saturday then clubs would have had one day to source an S status cox for a potential outing, which would need to be with a 'Senior' crew, as defined in the rules. Yes, the river would have been quite clear and you'd have probably had quite a productive outing, but many other clubs would have been stuck on the ergs with no access to an S status cox at short notice, or would have had to sub out some of their less experienced rowers to ensure they met the Senior crew requirement.

Racing, however, could go ahead with non-Senior crews and non-Senior coxes, meaning that more crews will have been able to go out, and also X-status coxes would get some practice on a higher stream.

As Senior Umpire I acted (in consultation with others) as I felt was necessary to prioritise the running of the event. We got lucky in the end from what was a very unfortunate position to be in (hanging just above the boundary to Red flag with the river level dropping), and we were fortunately able to go ahead with at least an hour or two of notice. As we could see it there were four possible outcomes:

1) We could hold off on making a decision until the last minute in case the flag dropped, and then the flag dropped and racing continued.

2) We could hold off as before but then nothing happens and we have to cancel last minute.

3) We could cancel in advance to find that the flag didn't drop.

4) We could cancel in advance to find that the flag drops and racing could have happened after all.

Three of four of these options involve cancelling racing. Note that we could not have reversed our decision to cancel if it turned out that the flag had dropped after all.

There is currently no directive in the OURCs rules (beyond extremely subjective interpretations of the aims of OURCs in the Constitution) or event plan/risk assessment as to whether or not to prioritise racing over the chance to organise an outing in a situation like this. It may be that the membership of OURCs decides it would like to move in a particular direction here, but whether or not this needs to be written into the rules is another question. Either way, I think this is a discussion worth having openly. I've posted this here so that anyone can chip in with their views (please do!), but I also think that ultimately this needs to be discussed at a Captains' Meeting (and indeed it has to be if any rules are to be introduced).

One thing I know has been mentioned is to introduce a deadline by which a decision needs to be made. Again, whether or not this needs to be in the rules is a separate question. In principle this is perfectly workable, but of course it carries the risk of a premature cancellation when racing turns out to be perfectly viable. It is unusual for us to be so unsure about what the flag will be the day before racing begins, but it happened this weekend, and could happen again.

This also opens up a risk of it working in the other direction. If the river is rising but not yet at Red (and we are unsure if it will be), and the decision has to be made the day before, does this mean the event needs to be cancelled?

Please do let me know your thoughts.

SU for IWL D
PostRE: IWL D decision making
AuthorTom Coles
Posted At15:29, 6th Feb 2017
89 weeks ago
I am happy to put that on the CM agenda as a standing item, and if there is any discussion here we can bear that in mind at the meeting as well.

I think Ian covered just about everything I wanted with the exception of the big problem being communication between us and the EA. The EA no longer has a permanent lock-keeper (government cuts) and therefore tend to make bigger, more infrequent changes but more importantly, don't tend to let us know beforehand or stick around long enough to talk to us about their intentions, so we are relying on (educated, but still) guesswork.

I would always say the best way to deal with a situation like this in future is to do the same as we did - plan for the worst, hope for the best. But since I appreciate other people may have things to say I'll shut up!