Leo Blockley drowned in the River Ebro while rowing with the Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club on their winter training camp in Amposta, Spain on December 29th 2000. He was 21.
Leo's crew ran in to adverse weather conditions during a training session. Their boat was quickly swamped by the two-foot waves and, as the boat had no underseat buoyancy compartments, the crew was forced in to the water. Little over fifty meters from the rowing club from which they had boated, Leo disappeared as he attempted to swim back to the boat.
This campaign was started to push for all boats to have enough inbuilt buoyancy to remain afloat even when swamped, thus safeguarding the crew. In 2001 this concept was not generally accepted by many in the sport, by our NGB (the ARA, now renamed British Rowing) or by FISA (the world governing body). Many incorrectly believed it was physically impossible. Rowing was steeped in unfounded traditional beliefs about boats and attitudes were entrenched.
The battle has taken many twists and turns. As well as consistently trying to spread the word at every level, it involved a second inquest for Leo, a parliamentary debate and a government commissioned national review of rowing safety - all backing our aims. The whole story is documented (in reverse order) in the contemporaneous news postings listed below and linked on the left (or click Archive to see it all).
For personal reasons we have now decided to formally end the campaign. However we are aware that this site is used as a source of safety information and is linked to many national and club rowing and water sport websites - thus it will be maintained as such. We hope this is useful.
Things have changed for the better. Heartfelt thanks to all who, over the years, have helped us achieve this. We are happy to answer queries - use the contact link on the left.
Jane and Stephen (Leo's parents)
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