A skipper/owner went overboard and died – because he wasn’t tethered to the boat and wasn’t wearing a life jacket or PFD.
That’s essentially the story in a nutshell, but the commissioned report is still way worth reading for more detail and education .
Offshore sailing, and especially distance racing, augments the normally slight risks of sailing for a few key reasons:
- When conditions worsen the waves are larger
- Safe port is nowhere nearby
- Everyone gets tired
- Help is usually nowhere near
Call me a sissy, but I just don’t do long distance ocean sailing. I grew up watching the news about the Fastnet Race tragedy of 1979, and that was the end before the beginning could ever happen. Every now and again, I’d read about another tragedy at sea. Eventually, the Sydney Hobart happened as well. Commercial vessels lost; cruising sailor basically run over by large ships. A coastal delivery (not even a race) where the life raft was taking water and the sharks were at them – and that was the US Eastern Seaboard!
Of course, these cases are very few and far between -but that has basically been enough for me to not go. Yet. Maybe I will. But, you better believe it won’t be before copious quantities of research and prep, especially vetting the vessel and people I’d be going with.
Here’s the report from US Sailing on this past season’s tragedy in the Newport-Bermuda Race. The lessons aren’t just for long distance races, so read up!..