US Sailing Safety Study Alert
US Sailing Releases Report on Newport to Ensenada Race Tragedy
US Sailing has released a report of an independent review panel on its investigation of the sailing accident that occurred on April 28 during the 2012 Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race that resulted in the deaths of four sailors. The crew were victims of an accident aboard Aegean, a 37-foot Hunter 376. The 125-mile Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race is held annually, starting from Newport Beach, Calif. and ending at Ensenada, Mexico.
Read the Newport to Ensenada Report
(Report may take a few minutes to fully download)
In August, 2012 US Sailing released a report on the Full Crew Farallones accident and a Dinghy Capsize Report in September of 2012.
US Sailing conducted three independent reports in 2011 on the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac accident involving Wingnuts, the youth sailing 420 tragedy on Severn River, and the Rambler 100 incident.
Please click below to access each report.
Dinghy Capsize Report
Read the US Sailing Report on the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race.
2011 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac report
Youth sailing 420 tragedy on Severn River report
Rambler 100 report
US Sailing Issues Statement on Dinghy Capsize Report
In response to a 2011 fatal sailing accident in Annapolis, Md., members of US Sailing recently conducted three days of intensive on-water tests of dinghy safety methods and equipment. Held in California and New York, the tests evaluated ways to recover people in the water and right dinghies from capsize and inversion. Sailor entrapment and the causes were also addressed.
The tests were organized by Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Chair of US Sailing’s Safety-at-Sea Committee, and Timmy Larr (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), member of US Sailing's Training Committee National Faculty. They were assisted by John Rousmaniere (New York, N.Y.), author of the U.S. Sailing report on the Annapolis accident and Safety-at-Sea Seminar moderator. Hawley, Larr, Rousmaniere and the 25 other volunteers participated as individuals, not in their official capacities.
The report describes and evaluates each of the methods and equipment that were tested, and offers recommendations for policies, rules, and further testing.
Among the questions answered in the tests were:
What is the best way to rescue entrapped sailors?
What is the minimum weight for bringing a 420 back from a turtle?
How helpful is it to add buoyancy to the top of the mast?
Which boat-righting methods work with different types of powerboats?
How do we handle disabled or helpless sailors?
The tests and the report were welcomed by Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.), President of US Sailing, who said, “The volunteers who undertook these rigorous tests deserve our thanks. Anything we can learn that advances our understanding of the causes and solutions of sailing accidents is important.”
Richard Jepsen (Berkeley, Calif.), Chair of US Sailing’s Training Committee said, “This is a very professional report. These trials came up with compelling, repeatable findings, while also presenting questions that the Training Committee will address in its own trials, whose results we will report.”
Jepsen added that the tests, the report, and plans for future action will be discussed at the Training Committee meetings at the US Sailing’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco on November 1-3, 2012.
An illustrated report of these tests, written by John Rousmaniere, is available here.
2012 Full Crew Farallones Race Report Announcement
A US Sailing independent review panel has released the report on its investigation of the sailing accident that occurred on April 14, 2012 during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco, Calif. The accident resulted in the deaths of five sailors from the sailboat, Low Speed Chase.
The crew of eight aboard Low Speed Chase encountered larger than average breaking waves when rounding Maintop Island, the northwest point of Southeast Farallon Island. These waves capsized the vessel, a Sydney 38, and drove it onto the rocky shore. Seven of the eight crew members were thrown from the boat into the water. Only two of those sailors in the water made it to shore and survived.
As a result of the panel’s research and analysis, they determined that the primary cause of the capsizing was due to the course sailed by Low Speed Chase, which took them across a shoal area where breaking waves could be expected. During the course of the analysis, multiple track lines from other racers that day were obtained and are provided in the report. It is noted that the Low Speed Chase was not the only vessel which crossed or sailed very near this shoal area.
Although the course sailed was the direct cause of the accident, there were additional safety issues that came to light during the investigation. The panel concluded that improved personal safety gear, including life jackets and harnesses, may have increased the sailors’ chances of survival. They also concluded that enhanced communication capabilities between the race committee and race boats, and improved race management protocols could have better assisted the search and rescue efforts. The panel noted that these additional issues did not directly affect the outcome of this incident. However, improvements in these areas may save lives or reduce injuries in future accidents. The essential key to prevention would have been a more conservative course selection to avoid breaking seas in shoal water on a lee shore.
Coast Guard Sector San Francisco called for an offshore racing safety stand down to provide the time necessary to review safety procedures. US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, conducted an independent review of the sailing accident and investigated the circumstances in an attempt to help reduce the chance of future similar tragedies and make offshore racing safer.
The panel formed in response to this request collected factual information through extensive interviews, review of available GPS tracks and weather data, and questionnaire responses from race participants. The team also relied heavily on the panel’s deep knowledge base and sailing experience.
“The entire panel extends deepest sympathy to the families of the deceased and survivors of this tragedy," said Sally Lindsay Honey, Panel Chairperson. "We hope the effort we have put into our report will make offshore racing safer and promote broader awareness of seamanship principles. We are pleased to see the improvements in race management that have already been implemented locally in response to the tragedy.”
As a result of the tragedy, the seven Organizing Authorities which run local ocean events, all with disparate equipment requirements and safety procedures in the past, have come together to form the NorCal Ocean Racing Council (NorCal ORC). The goal of the NorCal ORC is to settle on a common set of best practices for safety in offshore events, and to develop an on-going process for continuous improvement of those practices. Numerous improvements have been implemented already, including a web-based system for managing crew information, new mandatory safety equipment inspections, and improved protocol and log for all race committee communications. These improvements will help the race committee to better support the deployment of Coast Guard resources.
"The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous support of the local sailors, the offshore race organizers and sponsoring yacht clubs during the safety review period," said Capt. Cynthia Stowe, Coast Guard Captain of the Port of San Francisco. "Our thoughts will always be with the families of the five sailors who lost their lives during the tragic accident aboard the Low Speed Chase, and we hope that the sailing community takes to heart the recommendations put forth in this report to help minimize the chances that other families will have to go through what these families have.”
The members of the panel include Chairman, Sally Lindsay Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.), John Craig (San Rafael, Calif.), Jim Corenman (Friday Harbor, Wash.), Bill Barton (Boston, Mass.) and Bartz Schneider (Crystal Bay, Nev.). Offshore Special Regulations Consultant on the panel is Evans Starzinger (Milford, Conn.). The Safety-at-Sea Committee Chair and panel liaison is Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Medical advisors are Dr. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.) and Dr. Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.) advised on investigation procedures and formats. Panelist bios are included in the report.
Read the US Sailing Report on the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race.
Other Safety News
The US Coast Guard sectors in San Francisco and San Diego have requested that US Sailing conduct independent reviews of the sailing accidents that occurred during the 2012 Crewed Farallones Race from San Francisco, Calif. that resulted in the deaths of five sailors and the 2012 Newport to Ensenada Race that resulted in the deaths of four sailors.
US Sailing has appointed an independent review panel for each race, who are responsible for researching the factors involved in the accident, determining what lessons can be learned and making recommendations for future consideration. The members of the Independent Review Panel focused on the Farallones incident are Chairperson Sally Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.), John Craig (San Rafael, Calif.), Jim Corenman (Friday Harbor, Wash.), Bill Barton and Bartz Schneider (Crystal Bay, Nev.). Offshore Special Regulations Consultant on the panel is Evans Starzinger (Milford, Conn.). The Safety at Sea Committee Chair and Review Panel Liaison is Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Medical Advisors are Dr. Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.) , Dr. Steve Shea and Dr. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.) will advise on investigation procedures and formats.
The members of the Independent Review Panel for the Newport to Ensenada incident are Chairperson, Bruce Brown (Costa Mesa, Calif.), John Winder (Annisquam, Mass.), Alan Andrews (Corona del Mar, Calif.), Ed Adams (Middletown, R.I.), and Alan McMillan (Pensacola, Fla.). The Offshore Special Regulations Consultant on the panel is Evans Starzinger (Milford, Conn). The Safety at Sea Committee Chair and Review Panel Liaison is Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Medical Advisors are Dr. Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.) and Dr. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.) will advise on investigation procedures and formats.
Watch these presentations on the reports from US Sailing's 2011 Annual Meetings in Annapolis, Md.