Updated October 2016                                     

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Standard letter & information for 2016 onwards


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"English" Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation 

Below is a brief outlook of  the information for all new enquiries to get them 
started on their search reference swimming the English Channel. 
It will give you a starting point with most of the answers that someone seriously 
contemplating swimming the English Channel needs. There is a lot more information 
within the web site pages on this site and the CS&PF web site www.cspf.co.uk plus 
the archives on the 'Swimmers Chat site'.
The "Swimmers chat site" is a independent forum and "virtual club" used by swimmers 
and interested parties world wide as a way to communicate through. 
It is part of Goggle Groups setup with a comprehensive web site offering an archive of 
past messages with  extensive search facilities.
If you would like to be invited please send the e-mail address with your request to
the CS&PF office. The office e-mail link is ------------   secretary@cspf.co.uk
NOTE-  Please make sure any e-mails sent to the office have "Channel swimming" in 
the subject line (The team or persons  name or initials for identification would help). 

The CS&PF is a Governing body for English Channel swimming and is officially recognised 
by both the British and French authorities and Coastguard as such. 
The CS&PF is now by far  the biggest organisation reference English Channel Swimming. 
The office database holds a comprehensive list of all English Channel swims the have been 
ratified by a recognised organisation. It includes the latest list of the swimming records for 
all the ratified swim attempts since Captain Webb in August 1875.
The Federation is run by volunteers - not paid staff - to help swimmers realise their dreams 
of attempting to swim the English Channel. While It does Its best to manage things efficiently 
please remember that the volunteers all have other work to do and full time businesses to run 
or jobs to go to. 
Please understand that Channel Swimming is both an “Extreme & Endurance” sport. Safety 
has to come first, second and third. There is a reason for the rules its members work under 
and the paperwork requested is to make your swim attempt as safe as possible. 

You have a "Duty of Care" to yourself and your team to be as 'best prepared' as possible 
and understand the task you are taking on. 
 If you need help and information setting up your swim, training or general advise the best 
way to get it is through the web pages, and to become a member of the "swimmers chat site".  
That way you can ask questions, add your comments, and get a lot of help and advice from 
other swimmers and trainers. You can also find out if anyone local to you is training for a 
swim or has tried one. The "Chat site" is a free site that any open water swimmers and 
interested persons can join. It is not a CAS&PF only chat site. 

You check the availability of CS&PF pilots and reserve places by going to the pilots direct, 
the office does not always have an up to date list unfortunately.
(See the "Pilots & Escort boats" pages for Pilot information and their e-mail addresses).

By going direct to the pilot you will find out first hand what is still available. Do not commit 
yourself to a pilot booking until you are sure you want to make an attempt. You will be signing 
a legally binding agreement and any monies paid are usually NON  REFUNDABLE. You will usually
have to pay a booking fee to confirm your place. Once you have decided to make your commitment
agreed terms and dates with the pilot and paid the booking fee or deposit please let the CS&PF 
office know so that you can be added to the swim lists and sent the CS&PF paperwork.

Make sure you understand how the pilots work and what their terms of business are as laid out 
in their contracts. Confirm payment methods and when the deposits need to be paid by. 

Your pilots swim contract is an agreement between you and the pilot - The pilots are all running the 
own businesses. The CS&PF recognise and register the pilots included on their list but It has no
involvement in setting, arranging or collecting any pilots fees.

You should keep a copy of everything in a personal file for future reference.
Always keep a copy of the pilot contract and the CS&PF application plus any medicals.
The CS&PF registration and swim fees are a separate item to your pilots fees. The office will 
send out the CS&PF paperwork to swimmers that are booked with a pilot and who register with 
the CS&PF office. The pilot will inform the office when the contracts and deposits are received.  
This paperwork is sent out at the end of December in the year before your swim booking 
for completion in the year of your swim. This is usually by e-mail to the e-mail address you 
supply them with. The office usually keeps an e-mail trail for each swim.


YOU MUST  complete the CS&PF paperwork and APPLICATION  forms and 
return them to the office as soon as possible.

CS&PF Application forms must be submitted by the 1st April

If you can not work within this time frame YOU MUST talk to the office well in 
advance to see what can be arranged.


We often get asked, "When is the best time to swim"? 
This is a complicated question to answer. 

The Channel Swimming season is usually from late June to the end of 
September/ beginning of October. ------ 

In June and early July the water is still warming up and can be anything 
around the 14°C to 16°C (58 to 61°F) mark - but the days are longer and 
the air temperature usually "warm". 
At the end of July beginning of August the water is warming up - around 
the 17°C (62°F) and the air temperature is still good but the weather can 
be unsettled. 
End of August and beginning of September the water should be about 
18°C to 19°C - but the days are getting shorter and the air temperature is 
often dropping to the 15°C 58°F mark. 
Mid to the end of September the water is often at its warmest but the days 
are short and the air temperature during daylight is often around the same
 as the water temperature or lower. The nights are cold.
A quick summery is that --- 
No time is a good time and you cannot predict  what is going to happen with
the weather much more than 5 days in advance, a couple of days often the limit.
This applies to any time of the year for the Channel.
Weather Forecasts can be obtained from many different sources on the internet.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk    ----- Is the main one on which the pilots use. 
Most of the other sites are based on this Met office data. 
Everything can be scoured from this site but it can be technical and involved.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather   ---  A simpler version of the above with lots of information. 
Gives you the shipping forecast - inshore waters forecast - Local forecast - 
coastal weather forecast (up to 12 miles out to sea) - 
the synopsis charts for both the British isles and the Atlantic (use Atlantic charts) - 
a 5 day perdition of local weather (not very often right). 
This site explains weather and has a lot of interesting reading in it's  articles.

Sandette lightship weather site - 
24 hour record of what is actually happening in the Channel. 
(With reference to the wave height readings - these are about ½ of the wave height.)

http://www.xcweather.co.uk   ---- A interesting site for weather around the UK and Europe. 
It is linked to the data buoys like the one above and gives you a five day prediction. 
This site is good to watch but is not very accurate for forecasting in advance.
It is a good example of how the "predictions" vary from the "actual" wind. 
It will help you realise the Channel is a very unpredictable and temperamental place.
Just -- "Hope for best and prepare/ expect the worst." – That’s Channel swimming.
SWIM TIDES - 2017 - 2018        TOP OF PAGE

The official CS&PF web site is www.xspf.co.uk  with the rules, pilot information etc on it.

As mentioned at the top of the page - there is a "chat" site to which you can be invited, 
(it is totally free but by invitation only), just let the CS&PF office know if you want to join.  
You can use the chat site to ask questions, make connect with other swimmers and 
members and search the archives for information previously sent in reference the many 
questions that have been asked. The chat site web page has search facilities to help 
you find information in its vast collection of past e-mails and is easy to use. 
The pilots swim fees are usually set around October the  year before your swim season. 
This is because this is usually the earliest period when the pilots can assess their expenses 
for the coming year. As a guide, our pilot/escort boat fees for the 201 season are set at £2800 
 for a 1-way crossing -  
The non-returnable booking fee and/or deposit secures your booking 
(Our booking fee is £300 for 2017 -- the deposit is £1000).
You need to agree and sign your pilots contact and return the deposit to confirm
 your booking then notify the CS&PF of the pilot, date and your e-mail contact. 

See the pilots / Escort Boat links on the home page.

Please keep the CS&PF and your pilot informed of any problems that may arise. 
The Pilot and CS&PF forms are updated on a yearly basis to keep in pace with new
requirements. Only the current forms for the year can be used. Old forms from prior 
years  will not be accepted. 
 All the pilots have slightly different systems for contract wording and payments. 

Check with your pilot as to their terms BEFORE you commit The booking fees and 
deposits are all non- refundable if you cancel after their payment.   

Some pilots send out the pilot contracts at the end of October when they have an idea 
of their expenses and have set their fees. Some send out the contracts as they receive 
the bookings and confirm the fees later.
You - the swimmer - have until the end of December to confirm with the office that you 
have signed  the pilots contract and return it with your deposit if you have booked prior 
to this date. The deposit confirms your booking and is the reference used by the office 
to send out the CS&PF application and medical forms. 
The pilot has the right to re-book the place if deposits and contracts are not completed 
and returned by their set date (usually mid December). Bookings made after the 1st January 
have the CS&PF paperwork sent out once pilot conformation and registration  is received.           
For your own peace of mind complete your paperwork early so that you know where you stand. 
The office decision is final in all registration matters once the set completion dates have past.
The 6 hour assessment swim for solo swimmers can be completed at any time up from 18 months
to 14 days before your swim tide starts. 

The 2 hour qualifying swim for relay team members is the same -  completion can be from 18 months 
before to 14 days before your swim tide starts . 

The team leader of any relay swim is responsible for coordinating and collecting the proof
of 2 hour swims which they need to send to the CS&PF office once they have ALL been 
completed by the team members. These qualifying swims are to make sure swimmers are 
aware of the challenge they are taking up and to give them a taste of what to expect. 
They are short swims compared to the actual crossing and should become a distance that is 
often exceeded while training. DO NOT treat them as a training target for a successful swim.  

These assessment swims are part of the CS&PF "Duty of Care" and awareness programme.
English Channel Swimming is an Extreme endurance Sport that can result in injury or even death. 
By telling the Federation you have undergone the experience of completing  a qualifying swim 
you are confirming you understand the risks involved and you accept the responsibility of 
assessing your abilities to make your attempt. 

Team leaders are undertaking this assessment on behalf of the relay team swim members they 
are organising. Please make sure everything is completed correctly and your assessments are 
rationalised and valid for the attempt you and / or your group are undertaking.
All qualifying swims have to be ratified in writing and sent to the CS&PF by the swimmer and 
the person who has observed while the swim took place. 



The usual system for booking priority is that pilots book up to 4 places per each set 
of neap tides, usually 2 places on the Spring tides.
These are in order of  number 1 first then down to number 4.
This is the order in which the swimmers are "OFFERED A CHANCE TO SWIM".

The Swimmers abilities and wishes are all different and Channel swimming 
is very dependant on the weather so if the first swimmer in line is offered 
the chance to swim and says “No” the place will be offer to the next in line - 
and so on until someone accepts the offer or everyone has turned it down.

On the next good swim day the system starts again with the 1st in line being 
offered the swim to the remaining swimmers in their priority. 
This system means that the number 1 person can choose the day they want
 to swim on but if they decline to swim other swimmers get the option offered 
to them on that tide. CHECH WITH YOUR PILOT for conformation as to the method 
he will be using when you are booking and arranging your swim as they can vary.  
The pilots swim  contract is made directly with the pilot you choose and 
is between you and the pilot. The pilots are financially independent and 
operate as businesses in their own rights. All the CS&PF skippers/pilots are
qualified as required by the MCA to captain their vessels. They hold commercial 
endorsements on their qualifications. All the pilot vessels are commercially
certificated as required by law. They are registered with the British and 
French Coastguard's annually by the CS&PF.  
The full list of the CS&PF registration fees and swim fees are in the rules 
on www.cspf.co.uk – PLEASE READ THE RULES CAREFULLY ---  
Make sure you understand them. If in any doubt ask for clarification. 
A Guide to the successful booking procedure 
1.      Select the year and tidal period you want to book.
	     Check with the pilots to see which pilots have places free. 
         Confirm the reservation with the pilot for the tidal period you want. 
2.      The pilot will then hold the position (if it is available) for a short period  
         and e-mail/confirm with you the booking fee request.  

3.      AGREE TREMS and confirm your acceptance of the position offered .
4.      The pilot will confirm the reservation and send you instructions and confirm 
		 when the pilots contract will be sent to you.    
5.      Sign and return your pilots contract with your deposit or booking 
          fee to Finalise your booking.
 5.     Let the CS&PF office know you have everything sorted with the pilot 
         and your swim position is booked. 
6.      The pilot will also tell the office when the booking is finalised and 
         the contract and deposit has been received. 
Make sure you are definitely prepared to commit yourself to booking the
place before finalising it. Please note the pilots deposits are non returnable 
and required to confirm the swim place bookings. 
NOTE - When the office has conformation of your pilots booking we will 
then send you the CS&PF application paperwork. 
the CS&PF forms must be completed in the year of your swim.  
(That's after 1st January) and before any deadlines set by the Federation.
If you have a problem with the deadlines talk to the office - 
They can not guarantee to be able to solve your concerns but they will try. 
Applications and bookings made after the deadline can be  processed 
by the office but only by arrangement and they can not guarantee they 
will be completed in time for the swim. Talk to the office before committing 
to a booking with the pilot if you are making a late reservation.    
Please read the web sites - CS&PF rules - pilots escort contracts and the 
CS&PF forms fully and understand them before completing and signing 
them, they are binding and explain what you are committing to. 
Please keep a copy of all your paperwork.     
The main points are often repeated more than once above to try and make 
sure you know exactly what you are contemplating and how the system works.
OFFICE secretary@cspf.co.uk