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Winter Rules

It’s that time of year again. Dusk has started to descend on our club sessions!

We adopt winter rules in the autumn to reduce the risk of collisions in the dark.

Winter rules will be in operation from 1st October 2022 until further notice.


These rules apply to everyone.


In summary:

  • It is compulsory for all paddlers irrespective of ranking, age or experience to wear buoyancy aids after dusk.
  • All paddlers using club boats and ANY club member paddling from Lower Wharf is to display lights in accordance with these rules.
  • Appropriate warm clothing must also be worn at all times.

Coaches may also require paddlers to wear buoyancy aids when the air temperature is at or close to freezing because of the risk of cold water shock.

In addition paddlers training for DW are strongly recommended to wear BAs and carry the recommended survival kit in their boat. You should train with the weight you will have to race with from the start.

The risk of paddling in the dark is increased because the canal is narrow, there are occasional narrow-boat movements after dusk and we usually have paddlers moving in both directions. The aim is to be seen by other craft, not to illuminate the way ahead. In 2022 our rules require:


  • Everyone must show a forward facing white light and a rear facing red light when paddling on the canal after dusk.
  • Lights may be attached to the front and back of buoyancy aids or to the boat.
  • Be considerate. All lights are to be ‘diffused’ to prevent dazzling other paddlers. This can be achieved with layers of clear tape.
  • Young people (U18) will not be allowed on the water without the required lights in poor light at dawn and dusk.
  • Observe the ‘river right’ rule to reduce the risk of collision with other paddlers. Wash groups must stay right of the centre line unless the canal ahead is completely clear.
  • During inclement weather, especially when the air temperature is below or close to freezing, a coach or session lead may declare that buoyancy aids and additional clothing are to be worn for safety reasons.
  • When paddling away from the Club in darkness (for example of the River Thames or any flowing waterway) lights are COMPULSORY for all paddlers taking part in organised Club activities.


Please seek advice from coaches on lighting. We recommend the ‘Adventure’ light (eBay or Amazon) or cheap silicon band wrap-round lights available at under £2 from various local stores (try Wilkos, Poundland or Lidl). Different lighting regulations apply to DW and will be briefed to paddlers taking part in the event in due course.