To allow Safari teams and their bank crews to deal with potentially serious issues affecting the health and safety of participants, to clarify existing rules and to comply with state laws regarding PFDs.
Not directly. The Safari Board has no reason to believe that any of the rule changes made this year would have prevented the unfortunate death of Brad Ellis. However, we make every effort to make changes which might assist participants in minimizing the chance of serious illness, injury or fatality to participants.
The TWS is unlike almost any race on the planet – thus its designation as "The World's Toughest Canoe Race." Due to the length, duration, and remote nature of the race course, it is literally impossible for race officials to monitor in any way the physical condition of participants. The people best able to make such determinations are those closest to the team – their team captain(s), the racers and bank crew.
As anyone who has ever served as a team captain knows, the race can be almost as hard on the team captain as on the racers. Every team captain is different in her or his ability to withstand heat, sleep deprivation, and related concerns. Moreover, getting water, ice and other allowable items to racers can be very important. This rule was changed to allow team captains to take some time to sleep before getting behind the wheel and possibly endangering their own lives or the lives of others.
No! This cannot be stated clearly enough. Participants need to realize that these rules changes are not intended as part of some kind of game. They were made in good faith by the Board of the Texas Water Safari to assist teams and team captains in dealing with the potential for serious illness and death. Any attempt to play games with the rules or push them too far may still result in penalties or disqualification. A good rule to follow is that if the legality of supplying a given item or taking a certain action is unclear to you, and if it is not reasonably related to preventing serious illness or death, then don't do it!
No. Racers are strongly discouraged from continuing down the river in darkness without lights. However, if at any time you lose your lights, there is a safe alternative: pull over to the bank and wait for morning. If you feel that not being able to take on lighting equipment is unfair, given the allowance to take on food and medical supplies, we are sorry, but that is the rule – and it applies to everyone.
Inflatable PFD's are only Coast Guard approved if they are used as the manufacturer intended. In the case of inflatable PFD, it has to be worn to be USCG approved. If using a typical I, II or III PFD which has flotation built in, the PFD(s) only have to be in the boat. In the case of racers under the age of 18 inflatable PFDs are not allowed.
The Texas Water Safari is not renting SPOT trackers. SPOT trackers are however required equipment for all canoes participating in the Texas Water Safari.
Rule Number 8 changes: Team captains may deliver items of food, ice, drink or medical materials at any time during the race which, in their sole discretion, deem necessary for the health or safety of the team. Only re-usable mesh bags may be used to help the team captain make any such exchange. (This is to prevent littering or any other use of bags or other containers). Food Items may be individually waterproofed in seal-a-meal type bags or zip-lock bags. No Zip-lock bags larger than one gallon may be used. No other items such as paddles, lights, repair equipment, or any other supplies or materials of any kind can be supplied to the team by the team captain(s).
Rule Number 9 changes: Teams shall not receive help or assistance of any kind except verbal assistance or those items listed in Rule 8 during the Safari. Should medical care be required by a team member, it is the sole discretion of the team members and/or the team captain(s) to request medical care from any individual to ensure the health or safety of the affected team member. By signing the entry form and liability waiver, the team members and team captain(s) expressly agree and understand that there is no obligation on the part of the Texas Water Safari Corporation, its board members, or officials to provide standby medical care at any point along the race course.
Rule number 20 changes: Pace boats or canoes (i.e. crafts that are paddled or powered that follow or lead Safari entrants for the purpose of "keeping a team up" or conveying water) are illegal. Canoes, kayaks and other watercrafts that are paddled or motor driven can be used, under extremely limited circumstances, by team captain(s) for the purpose of providing emergency items of food, drink, medical supplies or services to their team where the team and/or a team captain has concluded that a medical emergency exists. This is not intended to be used as a routine method for delivering water, ice, or food by team captains, and actual delivery of items or services must be performed while stationary. Prior to, or immediately after this emergency measure is used, a team captain will report the event to a race official. Any other use of a craft such as, travel down the river to accompany the team to "keep them up" provide any other type of support including wake riding or drafting , or to misuse this rule to provide routine handoffs, is illegal and are grounds for disqualification.