Are your launches ready for training/practice?

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How do you know if your launches are ready for practice? 

This post provides a helpful checklist to make sure that your launches are ready to go for practice. This checklist can help you with safety aspects to the efficient running of a practice. Once you have read this post you can evaluate if your launch is ready to go.

1. Launch Plugs
Check that the plug is inserted into the drainage hole before you do anything else. This will be helpful if you run a program and your launches need to be put into and out of the water each practice. Additionally, you should attach a bungee to the plug and attach the other end of the bungee to the launch. This way, if you accidentally forget or the plug somehow works loose, you are able to locate the plug quickly and avoid any further issues with water leaking into the boat.

Picture showing the bungie for a lunch plug

Picture showing the bungee for a launch plug

2. Ropes and Anchor
Your launch should be equipped with a rope to tie the launch off to the dock or to something on the land. It’s always a good idea to have a rope so you can securely attach your launch to something else so that it does not drift away. You should also ensure that the rope is inside your launch when you get moving. If this is not checked it is possible that the rope will get wrapped around the engine and that could be a mechanical issue that you don’t want to deal with. It also wastes valuable practice time when your crews could be improving. 

In addition, your launch should also have an anchor in it. The anchor is important because if you have an engine malfunction, for example, you will be able to use the anchor in order to maintain the position of the launch. This is especially important if you are coaching on a river with a flow that has locks or dams. 



3. Waterproof Tool and First Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to ensure that you have tools, spare parts, and a first aid kit while you are on the go. I’ve had a few practices that have been ruined or at least the effectiveness of the practice has been reduced because of an equipment issue. For example, a top nut on a rigger has worked loose over time, or a nut is missing from a rigger. Ideally, you should be checking your equipment periodically for this, but occasionally something falls through the cracks and gets overlooked. With the toolkit, you can quickly address any equipment issues and get back to the practice quickly. The tool kit bag should contain at least these items. 

  • Extra nuts, bolts, washers, spacers (for your equipment depending on whether it is metric system or imperial
  • Appropriate wrenches (7/16″ or 10mm) and a small adjustable wrench
  • First aid kit (mini one bought already assembled)
  • Space blanket (to protect against hypothermia have to pull athletes out of cold water and keep them warm).


4. Life Jackets

Your launch should be equipped with life jackets and there should be enough for each rower to receive one in the case of a capsizing (so if you biggest boats is an eight then you should have 9 life jackets). In the UK coxswains are required to have a life jacket already so eight should be sufficient in that case. In addition, there should be enough life jackets for the people (including the coach) that are riding in the launch. Those riding in a launch should already have a life jacket on prior to going on the water. This is best practice and provides you with another level of safety in case of an incident. 


5. A Paddle
It is important to have a paddle that you can use in the case of an engine issue. This allows you to get some propulsion for the launch if you need it.

6. Megaphone

Ensure you have a megaphone in your launch and that it works. First, this will help you communicate with your crews and make everything run much more smoothly. Second, you need a way to communicate to your coxswains or crews in case you have some kind of a navigational issue. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have spare batteries in your waterproof tool bag to in case your batteries run out. Failing that, at the beginning of the season ensure that you have enough batteries to last the entire season. The same goes for oil, buy enough oil to last the entire season on the front end. You will not regret the planning ahead. 

7. Extra Tank Of Gas

Either ensure that you have a full gas tank before practice, or carry a backup tank in case the one that you are using runs out. This is common sense really. 

8. Cell Phone

Ensure that you have your cell phone with you. In the event of an emergency, you need a way to communicate to get help with you need it. It is also a good idea to place your cell phone is a waterproof bag so that in the event that it rains or gets wet you still have a functioning cell phone. The cost of cell phones is on the rise and so this makes good financial sense as well. 

In conclusion, if you can follow this list, you will be well prepared for any eventuality that occurs during an outing or practice. If you think something to should be added or have some experience to share let me know in the comments or email me at

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