Charter and Implementation

In the spring of 1998, a safety committee was established with the agreement and cooperation of all major programs that participate in watersports on the Georgetown section of the upper Potomac River (between Haines point and Fletchers Cove). This was deemed necessary to deal with increasing river traffic caused by the explosive growth in rowing, canoeing, and kayaking. The purpose of the committee is to provide the rowing/ paddling community with guidelines for the safe use of the river and to provide an avenue for concerns. The committee will do this by supporting enforcement by the Metropolitan Police Department of existing legal requirements for equipment and boat safety through aggressive awareness, educational, and self-help initiatives. 

The information found in the following pages has been drafted by the committee with the greatest concern for safety. The guidelines are based on DC Government laws enforced by MPD Harbor Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard regulations, and USRowing guidelines in addition to the extensive experience brought to the committee by its members. The committee considers safety to be the number one priority of all organizations, coaches, coxswains, paddlers, and rowers who use the river. It is often easy to underestimate the potential for disaster. This document is meant as a means to educate and provide the tools for the safe use of the river. These rules are written for everyone’s benefit. Furthermore, it is emphasized that all coaches should go over regularly with their program’s proper safety procedures and ways to handle emergency situations of all kinds. 

All coaches and individual scullers/paddlers are expected to make themselves familiar with the guidelines and work to make sure others are aware of them also. Throughout the fall and spring members of the safety committee will be actively reminding users of the river if they are not following the guidelines. Frequent disregard for the rules may prompt the committee to inform the governing authority for the individual, be it a club president, boat house manager, athletic director, or police of the person’s actions.

 The safety committee shall be composed of representatives of: 

  • Georgetown University Crew 
  • George Washington University Crew 
  • Potomac Boat Club 
  • Thompson Boat Center 
  • Washington Canoe Club 
  • Representatives of the VASRA and WMIRA scholastic rowing programs 

Individuals on the committee are volunteers appointed by their respective organizations with extensive experience with boating and/or coaching on the Potomac river in addition to an interest in river safety. The current members of the committee can be found on the Safety Committee web page at 

Tasks of the Safety Committee shall include: 

  • Develop and maintain the water rules and recommendations 
  • To meet a minimum of 3 times per year, prior to each season to review safety issues 
  • To hold fall and spring safety meetings with mandatory attendance by all coaches 
  • Sponsor safe boating and other educational classes 
  • Respond to breaches of rules and other unsafe practices referred to it for action 


The major programs and organizations shall be responsible for implementation and enforcement of on the water rules issued by the safety committee. Violations should be dealt with within the sanctions available. Recurring incidents evidencing blatant disregard of the rules may be referred to the Safety Committee for resolution in accordance with the following procedures: 

  1. Individuals or organizations not satisfied with the resolution of reported violations by individual organizations should refer the matter to the Safety Committee. Referrals should be in writing and should describe the incident in as much detail as possible. 
  2. The Safety Committee will review the referral as follows: 
  1. Review the facts of the incident(s) at issue 
  2. Establish the seriousness of the matter against the relevant rule or safety protocol 
  3. Determine action to be taken, including
  • Dismissal of complaint with reasons
  • Meet with the individual or organization who/which is the subject of the complaint
  • Formulate action to be taken with the parent organization 

The safety committee will make decisions binding on organizations, and/or individuals and be subject to institutional rules with which he/she is affiliated. If sanctions are imposed they could involve the following: 

  • Revocation of privileges, e.g. Limitations on use of facility and/or equipment 
  • Denial of entry to sponsored regattas 

Any questions concerning the committee or issues requiring resolution should be first addressed to the Safety Committee member who represents your governing club. In the event that an individual is unavailable, contacting another committee member is acceptable. 

Founding Members

The following is the list of charter member organizations and their representatives. Starting in the Spring of 1998, this group of individuals laid the groundwork and created the standards used by the organization today. 

  • Matt Butcher- Commodore, Washington Canoe Club 
  • Martin Duby- Thompson Boat Center (TBC) Manager 
  • Gretchen Ellsworth- Regatta Director and Vice President of GLOC for the NCASRA 
  • Tony Johnson- Head Coach, Georgetown University Crew 
  • George Kirschbaum- Head Coach, Gonzaga College HS Crew, coxswain, PRSC Secretary & draftsman 
  • Steve Peterson- Head Coach,  George Washington University Women’s Crew 
  • Allen Rosenberg- U.S. Olympic rowing coach 
  • Matt Russell- TBC Assistant Manager, and George Washington University asst. Men’s Rowing Coach 
  • Margot Zalkind- Potomac Boat Club, and Chairperson, USRowing Masters Committee 
  • Bryan Tylander- Wilson High School Coach (GLOC), TBC asst. Manager 
  • John White- USRowing Judge/Referee