US Sailing Releases Initial Recommendations Resulting from Farallones Race Tragedy

While there certainly some danger inherent in the sport of sailing, hopefully some of these recommendations will help prevent future accidents like the one that Low Speed Chase was involved in.

A US Sailing Independent Review Panel  has released a set of preliminary recommendations from the research conducted on the 2012 Crewed Farallones Race that resulted in the deaths of five sailors from sailboat, Low Speed Chase, on April 14. The panel presented this information last week to the new San Francisco Bay Offshore Racing Council, which includes local race organizers and yacht clubs. The council has developed its goals to enhance safety and communications practices for all upcoming offshore events in the Bay area.

The US Sailing preliminary recommendations are as follows:

1. Enhanced training of sailors in seamanship and piloting, including understanding of wave development in shoaling waters and safe distance off a lee shore.
2. Once-a-season training seminars in appropriate safety gear and mandatory skippers’ meeting for offshore races.
3. Assurance of compliance with existing Minimum Equipment Requirements, including post-race inspections.
4. Improved race management, including accountability for boats on the course, crew members’ information, compliance with Coast Guard Marine Event Permit conditions, and improved communication with sailors and Coast Guard.
5. Consistency of protocol and requirements for all Bay Area offshore races.

Panel Chairman, Sally Honey explains, “The US Sailing Independent Review Panel for the Low Speed Chase accident has completed a substantial amount of its fact-finding agenda, including a questionnaire to all racers in the Fully-crewed Farallones Race; personal interviews with racers, including survivors and witnesses; and plots and analysis of two dozen GPS tracks around Southeast Farallon Island.”

“We are heartened by the seriousness with which the council has set priorities and assigned tasks to meet their mandate,” continued Honey. “We believe they are off to a good start in achieving more consistency between the various organizing authorities and making offshore racing safer for all.”

“I am especially pleased with US Sailing’s outreach to the boating community both by conducting interviews and by briefing the preliminary findings to the newly formed local offshore racing council,” said Capt. Cynthia Stowe, Coast Guard Captain of the Port of San Francisco. ”The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous support of the offshore race organizers and sponsoring yacht clubs. It’s the coordination and support from this local community which will ensure we learn all that we can from this tragic loss.”

A full report from the panel will be released by US Sailing in June.

Courtesy of

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