Additional Comments By The TWS Board About The New Rules

First, we want to thank everyone for your interest and comments concerning the new Texas Water Safari rule changes. Certainly the changes were not made without a great deal of discussion and consideration by the TWS Board. In the end, the changes were made to ensure the health and safety of the competitors and team captains and comply with state law regarding PFD's.

We know that there has been a great deal of discussion and concern by individuals about the use of watercraft in support of teams (Rule 20). The rule has been revised, see version below.

We also want to draw attention to the revised Rule 8 (below). The rule has been changed to allow only re-usable mesh bags for exchange of items. Only re-usable mesh bags can be used to exchange any items from a team captain to the competitors. This is to prevent litter of the river.

The last item we want to stress, while not a rule, is that we have made one change in a competition class. In order to allow more participation, we have changed "Parent-Child Tandem Unlimited" to "Adult-Youth Tandem Unlimited."

Last, I want to thank everyone for your constructive comments and certainly we know that any new rule is not always embraced by everyone, but we are hopeful that the changes that have been made will make the race a safer one. Listed below are a few "Frequently Asked Questions" and revisions to Rules 8, 9 and 20.

With only approximately 2 months until the Texas River Marathon (May 4th) and approximately 3 months until Texas Water Safari (June 8th) we are hopeful that everyone is well into training for the two races. As the race approaches, we will be providing more information about the Safari on the web – stay tuned.

Should you have additional questions which have not been addressed in this section or the information below, please direct them to

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the new rules changes?

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.

Are these rules changes related to the death that occurred in the 2012 race?

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.

Why the broad leeway for team captains to decide what might be needed for the health of the racers?

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.

Why change the rule to allow more than one team captain?

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.

Don't the new rules, mean that "anything goes" and doesn't the vagueness of some of the rules make any enforcement impossible?

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!

How about equipment? For example, lights are essential for safety at night. If I lose or damage my lights, or if my batteries get lost, get wet, or go dead, shouldn't my team captain be allowed to pass me new lights or batteries?

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.

Why do inflatables PFDs have to be worn at all times and be inflated when crossing the bay?

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.

Does the Texas Water Safari have SPOT trackers for rent?

The Texas Water Safari is not renting SPOT trackers. SPOT trackers are however required equipment for all canoes participating in the Texas Water Safari.

Revised Rules

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). 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 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.

Safari News

    Safari Sponsors