(a) Boat Crew Definition – a boat crew shall consist of five competitors, four of whom shall be Rowers and the fifth shall control the boat by a sweep oar and shall be known as the Sweep oarsman or Sweep. A crew must commence each race with all five competitors.
Note: To be an unrestricted (S3) sweep oarsman and to be eligible to compete in all SLSA competition, a sweep must hold a proficient SLSA Bronze Medallion/Cert II, a minimum current Development Coach Award or equivalent as well as having attended a sweep practical assessment, or sat with a panel of sweeps in a formal process of learning and to have been deemed competent to sweep by this panel. A restricted (S2) sweep may participate in competition under the guidance of a sweep mentor in surf conditions rated up to and including 13 under the Mc-deM Surf Hazard Rating (SHR) system provided that they have formally commenced the SLSA online Development Coaching Module and sat with a panel of sweeps as part of their skill development. A (S1) pre competition sweep is not permitted to participate in any competition.

(b) Uniforms/clothing: refer Section 2 of this Manual.

(c) Boat races may be conducted in the following events:

  • Under 19 Men
  • Under 19 Women
  • Under 23 Men
  • Under 23 Women
  • Under 23
  • Reserve Men
  • Reserve Women
  • Open Men
  • Open Women
  • Open
  • Senior Men
  • Senior Women
  • Senior
  • Masters Men
  • Masters Women
  • Masters

Note 1: With the exception of the Sweep (refer Section 2 of this Manual) no crew or Individual shall contest more than one of the following categories at the same competition: Open, Open Men or Open Women and Reserve, Reserve Men or Reserve Women categories. The Sweep may compete in different grades, but can only compete in a particular grade once irrespective of whether they are sweeping or rowing.
Note 2: When a Women’s Boat Race is conducted in an age category, the corresponding age race becomes a male only event (Refer Section 2).
Note 3: With the exception of Masters competitors, an age division crew or individual may compete in their age division plus older age divisions and Open or Reserve Grade. Masters crews/individuals may compete in their age division plus Open or Reserve Grade.
Note 4: In Master’s events, boat sweeps do not need to be eligible Masters Competitors, but must be SLSA Bronze Medallion/Cert II proficient and hold the necessary SLSA sweep qualifications.
Note 5: The sweep can compete in any of the age/gender Master’s boat events as the sweep, but can only compete once as either the sweep or rower in a particular age/gender event. In other words a competitor cannot be the sweep of the “A” crew in the 140 years men’s Master’s boat and then row as a member of the “B” crew in the 140 years men’s Master’s boat.
Note 6: A member is permitted to compete in SLSA surf boat competition when they are in the U17 age category (i.e. upon reaching 15 years of age as at 30 September in a competition year).
Note 7: Alternate participation arrangements apply to the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships and replaces parts of Notes 3-5 above. The alternative rules relate to ‘Double dipping’ (i.e. competing in more than one division or age category of rowing) by crews will not be permitted at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships).
Exceptions to this condition are as follows:
i) Sweep Oarsmen may continue to compete in multiple divisions and gender and age categories but, as per existing SLSA rules, shall only compete in a particular division or category once irrespective of whether they are sweeping or rowing;

ii) Individual rowers from an age crew who are also competing with another crew (i.e. not the same four rowers) in an older age category are permitted to row in a second category at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships provided that the other crew members are not also doubling up to form separate crews;

iii) Should a member of any crew become indisposed they may be replaced subject to approval of the Carnival Referee provided they comply with the requirements contained in Section 2.18 of the Surf Sports Manual and this event condition;

iv) If an U19 or U23 competitor is rowing in an older age category made up of mixed age groups they can continue to row in that older age category even if their own individual age division is suspended or cancelled. However, a crew made up entirely of rowers from suspended or cancelled age or gender group(s) shall not be permitted to compete.

(d) In U/19 and U/23 Men’s and Women’s events the sweep may be of an older age or of a different gender i.e. crews may utilise a suitably qualified proficient male or female club member as their sweep.

(e) A “warm-up” area may be provided for boats and crews but strict observance of the Referee’s directions relating to its use shall be observed. (Refer Section 2 – Marshalling). Encroachment onto the competition area or interference with any race may result in disqualification.

(f) All boat rowers and sweeps must wear an SLSA certified surf helmet as defined in the SLSA Approved Gear and Equipment Manual during training and competition except when an accredited boat sweep (during non-competition training) or the Surf Boat Referee (in competition) has issued a dispensation for the wearing of surf helmets. Such a decision is subject to the completion of a documented and approved SLSA risk assessment and if utilised, the completion of a Mc-deM Surf Hazard Rating (SHR) Model assessment (refer Section 1.4) has determined an acceptably low risk level to allow helmets not to be worn.

  • (i) The SHR system provides a systematic hazard assessment of various environmental factors by a Boat Referee and represents the prevailing surf conditions on a numerical scale from 1 –22+ (1 being the least and 22+ being the most hazardous). A score of 12 and under on the scale usually indicates that the risk of slewing, broaching, back-shooting and rolling is limited and as such, the risk levels are deemed acceptably low for the use of surf helmets to be optional.
  • (ii) The SHR decision-making process for boat rowing is as follows:
  • The SLSA Competition Safety Assessment as detailed in Section 1.3 is to be completed and considered.
  • The first assessment of prevailing surf conditions using the SHR system is to be made 20–30 minutes prior to the official opening of the warm up area (if applicable) or the commencement of boat competition.
  • The Boat Panel will assist the Boat Referee by providing advice on assessment of the potential dangerous nature of the prevailing surf conditions and the abilities of participating crews to handle these conditions.
  • The aim of the process is to gain consensus within the group, if possible, with the Boat Panel providing advice the Boat Referee. The SHR model is used as a tool to assist in this process.
  • The senior Boat Area Referee shall make the final decision on all matters relating to the conduct of boat competition including the optional wearing of boat helmets. Where appropriate the Boat Referee shall refer to the Carnival Referee and the Competition Committee.

Note 1: Should conditions alter during the course of an event the Referee may reverse the initial decision for the optional wearing of helmets and mandate that all boat rowers and sweeps must wear an SLSA certified surf helmet in competition.
Note 2: If the SHR assessment is not undertaken a nominal wave height of 1m is considered as the maximum wave height threshold where surf helmets may be considered for optional use. Wave height is only one consideration in assessing surf zone hazards (examples of others could include: a heavy shore break, long-shore drift, shorter wave periods, wind strength and direction).

(g) A Boat Rowers Panel of at least three (3) qualified and experienced surf boat representatives shall be appointed to discuss boat rowing conditions with competition officials and to represent competitors. The panel may contain representatives from different clubs, Branches or States depending on the nature of the competition. The Competition Committee shall endorse the members of the Boat Rowers Panel for the competition. The Boat Rowers Panel shall act as a communication link between the competitors and officials and act under the following guidelines:

  • (i) The representatives of the Boat Rowers Panel shall liaise directly with the Referee on all matters pertaining to the conduct of the competition.
  • (ii) The Boat Rowers Panel will assist assess hazards and provide advice to the Referee regarding sport specific safety considerations including recommendations that surf helmets be optional for a competition in the event of acceptably low risk levels (see Clause 5 (f). The SHR Model may be used to assist this process.
  • Note: Should conditions alter during the course of an event the Referee may reverse the initial decision for the optional wearing of helmets and mandate that all boat rowers and sweeps must wear an SLSA certified surf helmet in competition.
  • (iii) The Boat Rowers Panel may assist the Referee in setting competition courses prior to the commencement of competition.
  • (i) Any protests regarding surf boat competition shall be dealt with in accordance with this Manual and any subsequent bulletins and entry conditions.
  • (v) The Boat Rowers Panel representatives shall abide with any decision of the Competition Committee, Referee and/or Appeals Committee.