2016 Skippers Newsletter- Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim 12 February 2016

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Skippers - are you Rotto Ready?!
Highly regarded worldwide and one of Western Australia's iconic events, the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim is a 19.7km open water swim from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island. Whether competing as a solo, duo or team, the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim is a 'team' event with all swimmers surrounded by a support network of paddlers, boat skippers and crew. The event, managed by the Rottnest Channel Swim Association, is held in February of each year and is Rottnest Island's biggest day.
Skippers Questionnaire

The 2016 Skippers Questionnaire is now online!

You have until Saturday, 20 February 2016 to complete the test. The questionnaire will feature a series of safety based questions that are designed to ensure the rules and regulations of the event are understood. The questionnaire is located on the Rottnest Channel Swim website.

Message from the Department of Transport (Marine Safety) (DoT)

The DoT has become aware of some private boat owners 'hiring' their vessels for the 2016 Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim. DoT's clear advice is that recreational vessels being used in a commercial capacity may be in breach of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's National Law for Commercial Vessels Act.

What does this mean?

  • The RCSA will not host any advertisements placed on our social media sites or forum. If we become aware that a private owner is seeking to 'hire' their vessel, as opposed to 'offering' their vessel, these posts will be deleted.
  • It is okay for boat owners to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses (e.g. fuel).
  • The DoT may well prosecute should it become aware of any illegal boat hire (and penalties can be hefty).

As we are not experts on this topic, if you have any questions or concerns please contact DoT direct by emailing Jeremy.House@transport.wa.gov.au or Brad.Wilson@transport.wa.gov.au. or visit our event website

Important rule changes and what this means for you

In 2015 a few teams were disqualified for operating their boat in reverse and making way astern. In considering these matters, the RCSA discussed the 'no reverse' rule and would like to provide the following clarification.

Support boats MUST NOT make way astern (i.e. move backwards). To avoid danger (to the vessel, a swimmer, a paddler, etc.) a skipper IS permitted to use astern (reverse) thrust – BUT ONLY TO STOP OR SLOW THE VESSEL'S FORWARD WAY. The vessel MUST NOT make way astern (i.e. move backwards) under any circumstances.

If you need to stop or slow the vessel's forward way, the skipper must ensure it is safe to do so (i.e. no swimmer or paddler immediately behind the vessel).

The risks to swimmers and paddlers from vessels moving astern are high, and the possible consequences catastrophic.

We hope this clarifies the rule. Please let us know if you have any questions relating to this.

 The video from the Metro Safety Briefing is now online

If you were unable to attend  the Metro Safety Briefing last week we now have the information available online.

The Rotto Swim special edition of TEN Eyewitness News is a great way to find out about all the new event rules, what to expect on event day and the best way to prepare for a successful channel crossing. A big thank you to Network Ten for producing this year's briefing video! 

Reminder from FVSRG

With the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim only two weeks away, this is the perfect time to ensure that your boat is ready for the big day.

We have posted on our website a quick Pre Swim Checklist from the Fremantle Sea Rescue Group to make sure your boat is in the best possible shape for the Rotto Swim.The list includes checking your navigational lights as well as the steering and fuel system.


Hypothermia is a significant medical risk of mass participation long-distance open water swimming, and can affect anyone, regardless of swimming ability or body shape. Support boat skippers must understand the hypothermia risks associated with this event as hypothermia is frequent in long distance open water swimming and may be life threatening.

We have a video by hypothermia and Pulmonary Edema expert Professor Ian Rogers. Please familiarise yourself with the warning signs and symptoms as often a hypothermic swimmer will not be able to make rational judgements. As a skipper, you are in charge of the swimmers safety and this can include asking your swimmer simple questions every 30-60 mins and look for the warning signs such as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Combative behaviour
  • Shivering
  • Increased breath rate

If you suspect your swimmer is experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of hypothermia, you should immediately assist the swimmer as follows:

  • Gently remove swimmer from water and handle gently.
  • Wrap in plastic garbage bag and then blankets.
  • Keep swimmer calm and awake. Do not rub or massage.
  • If unconscious - place in coma position and seek urgent medical attention.
  • If conscious – help them to eat/drink small quantities of warmed liquids – NOT alcohol.
  • Call Channel Swim Base urgently and await instructions.

Seek medical support as soon as possible. For more information, visit our website.

Race day essentials

If your swimmer is a local, they should have attended a briefing and collected their registration packs. These packs contain some goodies for you:

  • 1 x laminated Safety Protocols for Support Boat Skippers
  • 2 x boat stickers
  • 2 x tender stickers (if you have a yacht or your boat is larger than 10m)
  • 2 x paddle craft stickers

These items are vital to you.

  • Support boat safety protocols should be carried on board to guide skippers on event day. This year we have revamped the safety protocols and removed the skipper's lanyard. Please familiarise yourself with the information on the safety protocols as it has everything you need for a safe and successful crossing.
  • Boat stickers are colour coded to your swimmer's cap and must be displayed on both sides of the support boat. Please make sure they are affixed above the water line and in a visible location so they can be easily identified. Skippers' may affix the stickers to a piece of corflute and then affix to the boat to avoid sticking to the paintwork.

If your registration pack has missing contents, please contact the RCSA office on (08) 9389 4080 or email enquiries@rottnestchannelswim.com.au to collect them. Your swimmer should have grabbed a 2016 Yearbook for you as well.

Pre-event planning

It is important to establish a clear plan between yourself and your swimmers in preparation for the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim.

This includes the following:

Number of people on board – this is determined by either the information displayed on the Australian Builder's Plate or (if there is no Builder's Plate) by reference to the Department of Transport requirements which can be found here.

Please be aware that the total number of people the boat is permitted to carry includes ALL swimmers, paddlers and support crew on the day. It is the skipper's responsibility to ensure that the support boat is legally able to carry and is capable of making the crossing to and from Rottnest safely.

Setting the course – the support boat skipper sets the course and swimmers and paddlers are to follow the support boat.

Efficient navigation – be prepared, plan and chart the course prior to event day. Please watch the briefing video for tips and tricks on the best way to do this.

Event day procedures – confirm your race number and the start time of your wave; discuss identification issues – i.e. how the swimmer will find the paddler, and the paddler finding the support boat; food and fluid that will be on board the support boat.

Allocate a Spotter – before event day, determine who will be the spotter on board who will assist the skipper in conducting safe swimmer changeovers. A second spotter (interchangeable) should also be allocated to maintain visual contact of your swimmer and other swimmers in close proximity to the support boat, as the skipper may not be able to see them from the helm.

First time skippers – travelling almost 20km at swimming pace is probably not something you have done before. Low speed boat handling, in wind and choppy waters, is a skill requiring practice. When you take your boat out this weekend, spend some time on your boat-handling – you will find your job much easier on event day.

Updating your details

Please chat to your swimmer or team captain to make sure all skipper details are correct and up to date for the 2016 Rotto Swim, especially your Recreational Skipper's Ticket (RST) and mobile number.

Soloists and team captains can update this information for you on the Updating My Registration page here

Want the best vantage point on event day?

The Rottnest Island Chamber of Commerce (RICC) is selling the Fuel Jetty pens for the Rotto Swim weekend from Friday, 26 to Sunday, 28 February 2016. These pens provide a great view of not only the beautiful Rottnest Island, but also the finish line for the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim and Champions of the Channel. 

The pens are $1,000 each for the weekend period and numbers are limited. Access restrictions apply, so please contact the RICC by emailing admin@ricc.org.au for bookings and more information. 


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