Skippers and support boats

The role of skipper is such a significant role in the safety and success of swimmers, which means skipper education and awareness is paramount. We highly recommend skippers attend the safety briefing, and this year we’ll require skippers to complete a pre-event questionnaire. The aim of this questionnaire is to ensure skippers are educated and equipped to carry out their role on event day.

Main roles of the skipper

  1.       To set the course, allowing the paddler and swimmer to follow them; and
  2.       To be responsible for safety of swimmer/s and support crew.

Skippers’ questionnaire

All skippers in the 2020 South32 Rottnest Channel Swim will need to complete a skipper’s questionnaire which will be available from 31 January 2020.

Skippers’ Checklist

Skippers have a key role on event day and need to ensure that they are prepared. The RCSA has put together an example skipper checklist to ensure that you have everything you need for the big day.

Swim Course

North Buoy South Buoy Rhumb Line
4km  31° 59.719’S
115° 42.446’E
6km  31° 59.731’S
115° 41.180’E
8km  31° 59.743’S
115° 39.911’E
10km 31° 59.450′ S 31° 59.754’S
115° 38.640′ E 115° 38.640′ E
12km 31° 59.526′ S 31° 59.765’S
115° 37.343′ E 115° 37.343′ E
14km 31° 59.599′ S 31° 59.776’S
115° 36.083′ E 115° 36.083′ E
15km 31° 59.633′ S 31° 59.782’S
115° 35.486′ E 115° 35.486′ E
16km 31° 59.671′ S 31° 59.787’S
115° 34.844′ E 115° 34.844′ E
17km 31° 59.708′ S 31° 59.793’S
115° 34.189′ E 115° 34.189′ E
18km 31° 59.740′ S 31° 59.797’S
115° 33.640′ E 115° 33.640′ E
18.25km 31° 59.755’S
115° 33.466’E
18.5km  31° 59.769’S
115° 33.307’E
18.75km  31° 59.783’S
115° 33.149’E
19km  31° 59.797’S  31° 59.808’S
115° 32.987’E 115° 32.987’E
19.25km  31° 59.798’S  31° 59.809’S
115° 32.831’E 115° 32.831’E
GPX Download - Cottesloe to Rottnest swim course

Finding a support boat

Organising a support boat can be hard, so it’s important to start organising your support boat and skipper at least six months before the event (especially if you’re coming from interstate or overseas). You need to enter your boat and skipper information when you register – this needs to be done by 31 January 2020, otherwise your entry will be forfeited.

Best ways to find a support boat

  1.       Advertise in the Forums section on our website – this works for most people.
  2.       Post on the Rottnest Channel Swim Facebook page.
  3.       Ask around – word of mouth usually works well.
  4.       Advertise in local newspapers, such as The Quokka.
  5.       Advertise online for free on Gumtree.

Domestic commercial vessel (DCV)

In this law: domestic commercial vessel means a vessel that is for use in connection with a commercial, governmental or research activity.

Recreational vessels that are hired or hired out are defined as a DCV are in direct violation of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 and there are significant financial penalties with a minimum fine in excess of $2000.00 for any contravention of the Act by way of an Infringement Notice or prosecution in a court apply.

Any recreational vessel found to be on hire during the Rottnest Channel Swim may result in the vessel being prohibited from operation immediately (withdrawn from swim), along with a breach report forwarded to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

If swimmers are looking to hire a vessel, it will need to be a Domestic Commercial Vessel. Some charter vessels can be found by visiting Bluesun2 and Exclusive Boat Charters

For further information on the Act you can visit the National Regulator at If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Transport (Marine) on 1300 863 308.

Boat guidelines

If you enter as a swimmer, you’re required to have a support boat. You must organise your own support boat and paddle craft – no personal watercraft (e.g. jet skis) are permitted.

The size of the boat required is determined by two factors:

  • The minimum size of boat that is legally permitted to travel to Rottnest Island;
  • The number of people onboard.

For these reasons, and for comfort and sun/wind protection, the RCSA recommends the following sized boats:

Soloist’s: No less than 5 metres

Duo’s/Team’s: No less than 6 metres

The RCSA will, however, allow any vessel with a length 4.5 metres or greater legally permitted carry the whole team (including the swimmer(s), paddler(s), and support crew).

The number of people permitted on board is determined by either the information displayed on the Australian Builder’s Plate or (if there is no Builder’s Plate) by reference to the below guidelines from the Western Australian Department of Transport.

The maximum number of people aboard (including swimmer/s and paddlers)

  • 4.5m to less than 5m: 5 people
  • 5m to less than 5.5m: 6 people
  • 5.5m to less than 6m: 7 people

Please note these guidelines are recommendations only and it is the master’s responsibility to determine the exact number of people onboard for a safe voyage:

It’s the responsibility of the skipper to make sure the boat is suitable and capable of making the trip. The skipper also needs to check thoroughly that the support boat isn’t overloaded.

Here is the skipper’s checklist that will help your skipper understand their rights, duties and responsibilities. Life jackets must be provided for each person on board, plus an extra one for each swimmer and paddler. It’s highly recommended (but not compulsory) that a paddle craft be used to assist the swimmer/s and skipper on the day.

Call signs for solo swimmers, and duo and teams will be the solo/duo/team number. For example, if you’re solo swimmer 100 your call sign is “Solo swimmer 100”, if you’re duo 323 your call sign will be “Duo 323”, and if you’re team 450 your call sign will be “Team 450”.

Support boat information required to complete your registration

  • Name of boat
  • Boat registration number*
  • Boat length*
  • Make of boat – boat make and model
  • Engine type – inboard or outboard
  • Type of marine radio – VHF Only
  • Mooring location/number if staying overnight at Rottnest*
  • Boat skipper’s name*
  • Boat skipper’s address*
  • Boat skipper’s mobile number*
  • Boat skipper’s email address*
  • Boat skipper’s Recreational Skipper’s Ticket number*

* Compulsory information to complete your entry.

Propeller guards

If you want to buy a propeller guard, the following WA suppliers can help you:

RIB rescue

RIB Repair House
Unit 4, 12 Zeta Cres
O’Connor WA 6163
Phone:   (08) 9244 9515 / 0402 298 826

Just Propellers WA

Unit 1-4 Leeway Court
Osborne Park WA 6017
Phone:  1300 4 PROPS / 1300 477677