Pilots Corner

Pilots Corner

Senior Pilot Reptile (aka Tom Linthicum) piloting our Angel Island club swim.

Welcome to the Pilots Corner!

This section of the SERC website is dedicated to the Club's swim piloting program. It contains information for swim pilots, prospective pilots and swim/race directors.

Most out-of-the-Cove swims require some kind of pilot support. That pilot support can come in the form of a kayak, SUP, a rowboat or motorized craft. For the purpose of this section of the website, "pilot" refers to the use of motorized craft.

The Fleet
The Club currently has four motorized support boats from three manufacturers. While they are all different, what they have in common is inflatable tubes. The boats are referred to as inflatables, RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) or simply zodiacs (even though only one of them is actually a Zodiac and one a RIB).

The Pilots
Piloting is a big responsibility. The lives of swimmers are literally in the hands of their pilots. In light of this responsibility, over many years the Club has developed a swim piloting program designed to train new pilots and to ensure that pilots are given responsibility commensurate with their level of pilot training.

Levels of Pilot Certification
We have 5 levels of pilot certification. They are:

  • Accompanying Pilot
  • Pilot
  • Lead Pilot
  • Senior Pilot
  • Assessing Pilot

You can read about each level of piloting in this document here.

In addition to the above, there is a Piloting Committee, drawn from the ranks of Senior Pilots, who working with the Swim Commissioner oversee the piloting program.

Finding a Pilot
If you're a swim/race director looking for a pilot for your swim, you can you the following email addresses to locate a pilot for your swim:

Email Address Description
AllPilots@serc.com All pilots regardless of certification level
Pilots@serc.com Pilots, Lead Pilots and Senior Pilots
LeadPilots@serc.com Both Lead Pilots and Senior Pilots
SeniorPilots@serc.com Just the Senior Pilots
PilotCommittee@serc.com The members of the Pilot Committee
AssessingPilots@serc.com Just the Assessing Pilots

When reaching out to pilots, please choose the correct distribution list based on your need (e.g., Accompany Pilots can't go outside of the Gate and only Lead Pilots can lead a Club swim).

Becoming A Pilot
SERC conducts a piloting class two times a year. Monitor the (South End Google Groups for class dates. You can find the class handout here.

Even before you take the class, anyone can go out as a co-pilot with an existing pilot as swims come up on the calendar. This will give you a chance to practice driving the boat (conditions permitting), learn from a current pilot and to experience a swim from above the waterline. Anyone can sign up on the volunteer list for a club swim to co-pilot. It is also advisable to contact the pilot you are riding with ahead of time, to discuss the swim for which you will be volunteering.

Don't wait for the class. Jump right in!

What does it take to be a Pilot?
Good pilots need appropriate knowledge and have the correct temperament. Here are the basics:

  • Knows the local landmarks
  • Knows the local Rules of Navigation
  • Communicates well and works well as a team
  • Is alert and double checking their environment regularly
  • Is calm in the advent of challenging situations
  • Is curious and wants to keep learning

Nobody starts off with all of these qualities. The point of pilot training is to help you acquire them.

Be Nice To Your Pilots
Remember that pilots are fellow Club members who are volunteering their time so you can have a fun, challenging yet safe experience. Without pilots you would be reduced to loops in the cove and Chas laps.

  • At the completion of the swim, come down to the end of the dock and help get the boats out of the water, cleaned up and put away. The pilots can't do this by themselves.
  • Listen to your pilots. This starts at the swim briefing and continues into the swim. If the pilot tells you to take a certain line or that you need to be repositioned, please just accept their direction. If you question their choice, discuss it after the swim has completed.

Categories of Pilots
Pilot Class Materials

2015 Pilot of the Year Josh Sale keeping a watchful eye over swimmers during one of our many Sunriser Swims