8.0.Safety, Risk Management and EMERGENCY, PErmits


The Head of the Yarra is a major and complex event, and warrants careful planning as well as the preparation of detailed policies and plans to cover possible problems.

The Organising Committee has developed a comprehensive Risk Management and Emergency Plan. <DOWNLOAD 2019 SAFETY PLAN>

Extracts from theRisk Management and Emergency Plan and the related Rowing Victoria Heat Policies are also included below. This information is also printed in the souvenir program.

8.2 Risk Management and Emergency Plan

The Head of the Yarra Organising Committee has several contingency plans and procedures in place.

The main contingency plans relate to:

8.2.1. Moving the start line

This would reduce race distance and may need to happen if river obstructions occur, or if bridges cannot be passed safely

8.2.2. Moving the finish line

Similarly, this would reduce race distance and may need to happen if river obstructions occur, or if bridges cannot be passed safely.

8.2.3. Delaying the start

A high risk event when course umpires take their places and call into the race referee to confirm the course is clear – or they have identified an obstruction.

  • The starter will make announcements to those at the start line.

  • Start line staging marshals will use megaphones to make announcements at the staging.

8.2.4. Suspending racing after the start due to an accident, obstruction on the course or a logjam at the finish line

This is a particularly difficult scenario with crews on the course.

  • Race referee will instruct course umpires to stop crews on the course from racing.

  • The Starter will cease starting crews.

  • Start line marshals will stop crews coming onto the water.

  • Course umpires will manage crews already on the course.

  • Start line team will manage crews at the start line on the water.

8.2.5. Re-starting the race after a suspension of racing

Course umpires will instruct crews already on the course to row through the rest of the course to the turn around point (no race time recorded).

  • The Start Team and Start Timing Team will exercise their best discretion in starting remaining crews in the remaining time left to conduct racing on the closed river.

  • Staging will keep waiting crews informed of the revised arrangements.

In all circumstances, continuation of the race will depend of the ability of race officials to implement the relevant contingency plan in the time available. Please note that a high risk factor with the race is that our Event Permit (including river closure) has time limitations. We do not therefore have the luxury of taking as long as we need to make up any lost time. Parks Victoria will be the ultimate arbiter as to how long we can extend racing if required.

8.3. Rowing Victoria Heat & Cancellation Policies

Extreme Heat

  • At a temperature of 34°C, or a Heat Index of 35 no rowers aged 16 years and under may compete

  • At a temperature of 38°C or a Heat Index of 35 all rowing competition is to cease.

Thus a window of opportunity exists for mature rowers at tempera­tures from 34–37°C in conditions such as low relative humidity where the Heat Index is below 35.

Once the air temperature at a regatta reaches 25 degrees, conditions must be evaluated every hour. Two successive readings of a Heat In­dex of 35 at 15 minute intervals require the referee to suspend racing.

The ultimate responsibility for decisions re extreme heat rests with the referee who may consult with the regatta’s Primary Health Care Provider.

If the conditions change during the event it may be necessary to inform crews actually competing that all racing must cease. This will be done by com­munication with the Lifesaving Victoria craft along the course and with race officials at their various stations. If it becomes necessary to cease competition the race will be declared a non-event initially for junior competitors, and then if required for mature rowers.

Advice from Bureau of Meteorology indicates that in stable weather conditions, an accurate highest temperature forecast can be provid­ed 5-6 days in advance. If such advice indicates the strong possibility of extreme heat conditions, the Head of Yarra Regatta Organising Committee will inform competitors re the possible restrictions apply­ing to the event.

In order to for you to respond properly to our contingency plans, you merely need to listen to instructions provided by Regatta Officials and Umpires. These are people who will be providing you with instruc­tions via megaphones.

Fluid Replacement and Nutrition

The issue of fluid replacement in an event such as the Head of the Yarra is complicated by a number of factors not the least of which is the nature of the race which will usually require competitors to row on average for at least 30 minutes during which time it is not practical to ingest fluid.

Factors which influence fluid requirements include

  • Genetic – some people perspire more than others

  • Body size – larger athletes tend to perspire more

  • Fitness – the fitter athlete usually perspire earlier in exercise.

  • Environment– fluid loss through perspiration is greater in hot, humid conditions

  • Exercise intensity – fluid loss is greater as exercise intensity increases

Athletes can gain some insight into their individual fluid balance sit­uation by accurate weighing before and after an exercise session. A loss of 1.0K equates to 1 litre loss. Research has shown that a loss of 2% of body mass will have significant effects. This would equate to a fluid deficit of 1.4 Litres in a 70K athlete. Research at AIS indicated that fluid loss in hot weather (greater than 32°C) could be as high as 2 litres per hour in a male rower.

The effects of relative dehydration are

  • Increased body temperature

  • Increase in heart rate

  • Reduced mental function – impaired decision making and poor concentration

Water is the basis of rehydration but water alone is not the most effec­tive agent. It is widely recognised that fluids containing electrolytes (principally sodium) and 4–8% carbohydrate are the most effective in restoring correct fluid balance. There have been instances where reliance on water alone proved injurious to health in causing reduced serum sodium ---hyponatraemia. High carbohydrate products can be counter –productive by interfering with normal absorption processes. Alcoholic drinks are totally inappropriate for restoring fluid balance.

Strategies in preparing for an event such as Head of Yarra include

  • Carbohydrate intake such as cereal , fruit, pasta 2–3 hours prior to race

  • Fluid intake of 300–400 mls in the hour prior to event.

  • Commence fluid replacement as soon as possible after completing race





8.4.Regatta Cancellation Guidelines

Following representations from member associations, the board of Rowing Victoria (RV) has issued the following guidelines for regatta cancellation (prior to race day) to assist clubs and schools:

  • In the absence of extraordinary situations, regattas will proceed. We participate in an outdoor sport which requires us to be tolerant of, and allow for, most factors. RV has existing safety precautions and policies which operate on regatta days. These include the option of cancellation of regattas on the day.

  • If extraordinary situations arise to warrant the cancellation of a regatta prior to race day, the decision will be advertised on the RV website by noon, two days prior to the regatta. For example, for a Saturday regatta, the notice will be posted by noon Thursday. RV will also email club representatives where an email has been registered with them. It will not be necessary to contact the RV office for clarification.

  • As most costs in running regattas are incurred by organising committees prior to an event such as course hire, course establishment, trophies, programs etc., no refunds of entry fees can be made in the event of cancellation either before or during a regatta.

  • Refund where regatta is cancelled due to lack of entries. In this case notification will be available

8.5. Permits

Parks Victoria Permit <DOWNLOAD>