How to Stay Safe whilst Rowing in the Sun

How to Stay Safe whilst Rowing in the Sun

Summer is just around the corner, and with so many other things to consider whilst preparing to get out on the water it can be easy to overlook sun protection, especially whilst you’re in the UK.

Although the typical British summer weather can be unpredictable, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and there has been a particularly sharp rise in the number of cases since the 1970s.

As a rower, naturally you’ll spend a great deal of time outside. This increases your risk of excessive sun exposure, which can cause premature skin ageing, sun damage, and skin cancer. But the good news is that skin cancer is largely preventable, and with proper practices can be detected early and successfully treated.

Claire Lamb, left, and Sinead Lynch of Ireland in action during the Women’s Lightweight Source: FarmIreland

Whilst rowing, it’s vital that you remember to protect yourself from the sun. If possible, avoid being outside between 11am and 3pm, or when the UV index is very high. If these times cannot be avoided, making use of shade and wearing protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, should be the first line of defence, with the application of a sunscreen used to supplement this. You should choose a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or above and a minimum 4-star ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection.

You must reapply sunscreen regularly to make sure you stay protected, especially if you’re sweating or splashed with water. ‘All-day’ or ‘extended-wear’ sunscreens are advised against, as if you miss a patch of skin or some gets rubbed off then this area could be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods leading to skin damage.

Although prevention is better than a cure, it’s important to regularly check your skin for signs of skin cancer. Early detection can help to reduce the risk of developing a larger, more serious skin cancer that may need extensive surgery or treatment.

You should be looking for:

  • New skin lumps, spots, ulcers, scaly patches or moles that weren’t there before
  • Marks (including moles) on the skin that have changed shape, colour, texture or size
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Any areas on the skin that are itchy, painful or bleed

If in doubt, get it checked out by your GP.

This article has been written in collaboration with the British Association of Dermatologists. For more information please visit

Source: British Rowing article ‘How to stay safe whilst rowing in the sun

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