Chiswick RNLI has warned rowers about dangerous conditions on the Thames after two boats this week had a narrow escape.
A quad and their coach's boat sank at Black Buoy, Putney and a rowing eight had to be rescued after they became pinned sideways against a barge at Dove Pier near Hammersmith Bridge, earlier this week.
Flooding may not have reached central London yet but the severe weather the UK is experiencing is affecting the Thames with strong currents, causing the river to swell in size and rowers to get stuck in perilous positions.
Luckily, all rowers so far have escaped unharmed but the RNLI has written to British Rowing, the sport's governing body, advising its members to take extra care.
Wayne Bellamy, Chiswick RNLI's station manager, said: "The current conditions on the Thames are extremely unusual and have the potential to catch out even the most experienced of river users. We’ve responded to 13 incidents involving rowers since December and we have pulled 15 rowers from the water in January alone.
"I fear a rower may become pinned against a barge or other obstacle and get dragged under by the strong currents we’re experiencing. The current cold water temperatures add to the danger if you fall in."
He warned rowers who do go out on the river to:
- Take account of the extraordinary state of the river
- Spend some time checking the conditions along y our route beforehand
- Be vigilant
- Do not go out alone
- Let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back.
In response to the RNLI's letter, British Rowing has asked clubs to factor in the tricky conditions into their risk assessments, be extra vigilant and to always carry a waterproof means of communication in case help is needed.
The Port of London Authority (PLA) has also issued safety guidance to rowers which you can find here .