Surf boat rowing code of conduct

This code of conduct outlines additional light requirements for surf boat rowing on NSW waterways between sunrise and sunset.

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1. Context and purpose

Transport for NSW (Maritime) has prepared, in consultation with industry stakeholders, codes of conduct to enhance marine safety and navigation by increasing the current minimum requirements for specific vessels.

1.1  The purpose of this code of conduct is to enhance safety in relation to surf boat craft being operated on New South Wales navigable waterways between sunset and sunrise.

2. Higher Standard of Lighting Requirements for Surf Boats

2.1.  The minimal lighting requirements set out in Rule 25 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions At Sea are adopted in NSW through the Marine Safety Regulation 2016.

2.2.  Transport for NSW (Maritime) requires any vessel under oars, such as a surf boat, in restricted visibility and between sunset and sunrise, exhibit:

2.2.1.  An all-round white light which displays an unbroken arc of 360 degrees and is visible in clear conditions from a distance of 1 kilometre


Light positions on a surf rowing boat
Diagram of light positioning on vessel

2.2.2.  A white light attached to the vessel at or near the forward end displaying an unbroken arc of 225 degrees, and a white light attached to the vessel at or near the aft end displaying an unbroken arc of 135 degrees.


2.2.3.  Two all-round white lights, one attached to the vessel at or near the forward end, and one attached to the vessel at or near the aft end.

3. Compliance with this Code

3.1  Compliance with this code signifies a commitment by rowers to reduce the level of risk associated with operating a surf boat in restricted visibility and between sunset and sunrise.

3.2  Transport for NSW (Maritime) strongly recommends surf boats display the lights specified in Clause 2.2 of the code. Failure to comply with this code and Transport’s recommendation may be viewed by the Courts as evidence of poor seamanship or negligence.

3.3  Further instances of non-compliance with this code may result in the lighting requirements for surf boats specified in Clause 2.2 being enacted in legislation with penalties for non-compliance.

4. Responsibility of Rowers

4.1  Transport for NSW (Maritime) reminds rowers to comply with the requirements set out in the Marine Safety Regulation 2016 and all other marine legislation. There is a general common law obligation to do more than the minimum, should it not be sufficient to eliminate the risk of injury or damage.

5. Amendments

5.1  Transport welcomes feedback on this code and any suggestions or proposals should be submitted to the Director Maritime Greater Sydney, Transport for NSW in the first instance. Email:

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