The San Francisco Examiner reports that U.S. Sailing has issued a number of recommendations this week aimed at preventing further sailing accidents, including racing deaths, along with increasing safety for sailors during offshore races. The recommendations were prompted by the deadly April 14 boat accident in which five members of a sailing team crashed into the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. An independent review committee was formed to review the accident and come up with accident prevention strategies.
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The Farallon sailing accident occurred during a sailing race. The “Low Speed Chase” was one of more that 50 boats that were involved in the event, which involved a 58-mile race around the island. The unfortunate boat rounded the group of islands closer than many others and was in shallow water when large waves crashed over the boat sending six of eight crew members overboard. The boat ended up on the rocks and five of the six died. The report determined that despite several boats being nearby, none stopped to help.
Here, the committee recommends increased education and training for future races as well as increasing the lines of communication to help prevent future disasters. Sally Honey, chairwoman of the committee notes “The only change to prevent this capsize would’ve been a different course selection … but we hope the remainder of the report serves as a catalyst for more safety improvements for the sport.”
Other recommendations include:
- Improving life vest buoyancy
- Making thigh and crotch straps mandatory
- Learning the best ways to use tethers
Further, the report recommends against boats having a required route around the Farallones.
Work has already begun on implementing some of the recommendations. However, larger scale changes such as installing radio towers to improved communication with boats as they leave San Francisco Bay may take several years to complete.
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