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May 17, 2011, 8:10:59 AM5/17/11
I had never thought about the risk of lightning on open water. Then it
struck me:

If in doubt, don't go out.

Walter Martindale

May 17, 2011, 9:41:11 AM5/17/11

Really cool photo. Reminds me of the time we had just pulled all the
rowers off the water when the Kayak club with whom we shared a
building launched their junior team..

The JW K4 returned to the boathouse when, just before going under a
bridge, all four ponytails pointed straight up in the static
electricity. No lightning strike, but certainly a wake-up call...
Really glad we have the "get off the water" practice when it comes to
thunder n lightning.


May 17, 2011, 11:01:40 AM5/17/11

I was there and very concerned. Regatta organizers knew there was an
approaching storm cell that morning, so squeezed all the races tighter
to get regatta off water by the time the cell hit.

They were one race too late.

The lightning wasn't near as bad as some midwest storms I've been in
where there are strikes every 10 seconds, at worst there was one
strike every other few minutes. and the closest a mile to the north
of the race course, probably the shot you see above.

Lightning is pretty rare in coastal California and Sacramento, though
ppl in the Sierras are used to it.

I don't have a clue what regatta organizers were saying, or what info
they had, but seemed like a dice roll to me.

Ellen Braithwaite

May 17, 2011, 12:10:52 PM5/17/11
On May 17, 5:10 am, Kit <> wrote:



May 17, 2011, 12:14:11 PM5/17/11

Possibly your picture is a phot of the spirit of Roy Sullivan fishing


May 17, 2011, 2:55:52 PM5/17/11
On May 17, 5:10 pm, Ellen Braithwaite <>

Sorry I don't know. I came across it on a social network site and
thought it was a great shot that RSR might appreciate. Tineye shows no
other occurrences.


May 17, 2011, 5:42:52 PM5/17/11

"Kit" <> wrote in message

Wow. Pinpoint Lightning is a good app for the iPhone. Checking the radar and
the hourly forecast helps as well. Lightning is something you have to keep
in mind when you're on the water, especially if you're flying a kite :-)


May 18, 2011, 9:50:30 PM5/18/11

Here in Hong Kong we get some spectacular thunderstorms and are
rightly banned from going out when there is a thunderstorm in the
area. A year or so ago I was at the river watching lightning hit some
lampposts along the far side bank again and again - unbelieveable and
shockingly powerful to be so close, pretty unnerving and I was very,
very glad I wasn't out on the water at the time. Around the same time
a young Chinese rower was also killed by lightning:

So hey, let's be careful out there....

Zbigniew A.

May 19, 2011, 1:07:25 AM5/19/11
On 05/19/2011 03:50 AM, Stamps wrote:
> So hey, let's be careful out there....

Hey, let's read between the lines:

"A 16-year-old female rower [...] The girl, surnamed Cai, was a
professional rower with five-year training experience in Xiamen."

And what is an average retirement age out there?

Yours Virtually, Zibi

Carl Douglas

May 19, 2011, 6:02:59 AM5/19/11

You're out on water - a fine, flat, conductive, earthing surface.

There's a vertical electrostatic gradient of who knows how many thousand
volts per metre.

You're the only thing projecting locally above that surface, so the
charge concentration at your head can be huge.

You also hold 2 conductive carbon sculls, have conductive aluminium
riggers & every surface is damp, so you really are well connected.

That's why events are normally called off on warning of lightning. So
no excuse to squeeze in an outing before the storm. Yet, still, folk
say they've never heard of it happening before. Maybe not often to
rowers, & maybe not so often anywhere, but anyone who has felte the
hair-raising effect of high electrostatic fields in exposed places knows
the dangers of lightning strike. If not, see:

While some rowers might unkindly call it pest control, those long carbon
roach poles - so they can fish the opposite bank, I guess - are a known
cause of fatalities among river fishermen, either from lightning strike
or touching overhead cables.

Sad about the sculler, but has the regulation bleating about PFDs & swim
training much relevance in that situation, except as arse protection?

Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Email: Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: (boats) & (riggers)

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