Safety and Support

Here at GWSC we take safety very seriously. A Safety Committee meets regularly to review the situation, ensuring the best possible sailing experience in a safe and controlled environment.

The club is able to draw on a pool of 200 qualified powerboat drivers, over 70 of whom are trained to RYA Safety Boat level.

Working with our highly qualified committee boat teams, several of whom are regular Race Officials at national, international and even Olympic events, we pride ourselves on top quality racing.

Grafham has a Coxswain on duty at all times the water is open, who is on call to help if needed. The Coxswain flies flags from a mast near thie shed (next to the big jetties), which indicates what sailing is allowed, as well as any other restrictions. 

A link to these flags, and a map of the lake, can be found here.

The Coxswain bases their choice of flags on guidance provided by the club, which can be found here.

Are you interested in joining the Safety and Support Fleet? A summary of roles are shown below.

If you would like to go out on the water for a taster session, please contact the office who will be happy to arrange this for you with an experienced and friendly guide. 

Upcoming duties and members fulfilling these vital roles are shown here.

Safety Co-Ordinator

An appropriately qualified member of Council, in charge of Safety at the club, we are privileged to have Roy Harold as the current incumbent. Roy is a very experienced Powerboat Trainer, Centre Inspector and First Aid Instructor.

He has travelled around the world delivering specialist training on water rescues and incident management. Before he retired to GWSC, Roy worked for the Fire & Rescue Service for 27 years, with roles including Lead Technical Advisor to HM Government on Flood and Water Rescue, and was awarded an MBE for his work in this area. Roy also has a series of NEBOSH qualifications which make him the perfect candidate for ensuring your safety at GWSC.

The Coxswains

In charge of the lake, following ‘Standing Orders’ from Council, are our team of Coxswains. They also carry out grounds and equipment maintenance working with volunteers and external contractors.

The current full time Coxswain, Andy Taylor, started at the club in 1993 soon after leaving the 1st Battalion Royal Anglians. An avid Leeds United fan, Andy is an experienced boat driver, with qualifications up to and including Powerboat Instructor.

S&S Fleet Captain

Usually picked from our large pool of RIB drivers, the Fleet Captain works with the Co-ordinator on resolving safety issues, but also represents the needs of the fleet, organising training days and trying to attract even more members.

Safety Driver

Making up the backbone of the working fleet, these volunteers provide the safety cover at GWSC during racing and other club events. Safety Drivers pride themselves in tackling any situation from rescuing model yachts to keelboat cruisers.

PB2 is the only required qualification, however holding RYA Safety Boat and First Aid are major advantages. Current members of the fleet come from every area of life, from ‘retired racers’ to people who’ve never sailed but enjoy getting out on the water.

Safety Crew

The starting point for Safety Drivers and Mark Layers, absolutely anyone can have a go at this and progress up the ladder. Although progression requires internationally recognised RYA qualifications, these can be provided at GWSC and your course fee will be refunded after a certain number of duties. If you fancy having a go, get in touch with Coral in the office who will arrange for you to be paired up with an experienced Driver.

Mark Layer

Working closely with the Race Officer, Grafham Mark Layers are some of the best. Patiently feeding wind strength and direction back to the committee boat and relaying the course to provide the ultimate race to sailors, they have a lot of professional pride in setting the racecourse in the minimum amount of time, before sailors get cold.

A variety of training is available for Mark Layers, from simple club level training to RYA accredited level. Please contact the office for details as these tend to be run on demand.

Race Management Advisor

The race management advisor acts as the club’s guru for all things to do with running racing. An experienced Race Officer, they liaise closely with other key members of the Grafham team to ensure racing is fair, enjoyable and safe.

Nigel Denchfield currently holds this post: a very experienced Race Officer, backed by his wife and Timekeeper Fiona, he travels the country to act as PRO, when he’s not racing his Lark at the club. Nigel also organises and runs training sessions throughout the year on Best Practice, for all Committee Boat volunteers.

Open Meeting Co-ordinator

Another appropriately qualified member of council, in charge of Race Officers and committee boat teams, the Co-Ordinator ensures open meetings (races involving boats from other clubs) run smoothly.

Nigel Denchfield currently also holds this post.

Race Officer (RO)

The Race Officer is in overall charge of the race track, and works closely with their Timekeeper, ARO and Mark Layers to maximise the racers’ enjoyment. GWSC is very lucky to have access to a large pool of exceptionally well qualified ROs, up to and including Olympic level.

Race officers have two categories, Principal (PRO) who runs open meetings, and Club (CRO) who runs club racing.

Assistant Race Officer (ARO)

Deputy to the RO, the assistant is just that. Sometimes they’re a fully qualified RO aiding a less experienced volunteer, or more often than not studying to become a Race Officer in their own right. 


Arguably the most important person on the committee boat, the timekeeper ensures races are started on time, following the correct starting sequence. Timekeepers often team up with Race Officers and work as a pair, frequently travelling all over to run racing, again up to and including Olympic level.

The club is currently desperately short of Timekeepers.

Committee Boat Helper

The starting point for learning Committee Boat skills, absolutely anyone can jump on board and have a go. Popular with parents while their kids are racing, helpers are well briefed on roles which vary from hoisting flags to recording finish results.

If you fancy having a go, please contact the office who will arrange for you to go out with an experienced team.