Full Report on Farallones Race Tragedy

US Sailing has released a full report on the Farallones race accident, along with the following press release. See what one of our editors had to say on the topic at Sailfeed.com.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
farallones_1

US Sailing has released a full report on the Farallones race accident, along with the following press release. See what one of our editors had to say on the topic at Sailfeed.com.

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (August 6, 2012) – 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.

Related

01-LEAD-Vento-Solare-action-(1mb)_Stephen-Cloutier

Ida Lewis Distance Race 2021

This year’s annual Ida Lewis Distance Race on Narragansett Bay will offer something for everyone. In addition to ORC and PHRF, there will be sections for doublehanded, youth and collegiate racing. Racers will also have a choice between the event’s traditional offshore distance ...read more

01-LEAD-Lag01-oon-620---Raiatea---French-Polynesia-(12)

Internships: Run Away to Sea

Not the office type? College isn’t an option, or your degree in philosophy isn’t panning out? If a job in the marine trades sounds like your dream career but you don’t know where to start, here are three places to both get some good training and a foot in the door. Dream Yacht ...read more

Screen Shot 2021-05-12 at 9.58.55 AM

Summer Sailstice Turns 21

Summer Sailstice’s will celebrate its 21st birthday this year. This annual worldwide celebration of sailing occurs on the weekend closest to the solstice, landing on June 19th this year. Over the past two decades, the event has grown to include nearly 5,000 boats and 19,000 ...read more

e60aa842-1c3c-41da-b0ba-dfd7678479e4

The New York Yacht Club Submits a Protocol Alteration with its America’s Cup Challenge

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) has submitted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup to the current Defender, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) in Auckland, New Zealand. The challenge was accompanied by a draft protocol for the regatta, which would see the Cup take ...read more

01-LEAD-CCA-Antarctica2-01

Cruising: Honoring Remarkable Ocean Voyages and Seamanship

The Cruising Club of America, an organization of about 1,300 offshore sailors, has been honoring remarkable ocean voyages and seamanship with an array of prestigious awards for nearly 100 years. The club’s highest honor, the Blue Water Medal, has recognized renowned and ...read more

2.4mR's racing at the 2018 Clagett Regatta-US Para Sailing Championships credit Clagett Regatta-Andes Visual

Host for 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships Announced

The 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships will be hosted by The Clagett Regatta at Sail Newport, in Newport, R.I. on August, 24-29, 2021, according to a joint announcement from the host and US Sailing. "We have had a very long working relationship with US Sailing and look forward ...read more

Reflections-photo-CMerwarth

Cruising: Reflections of an Old Salt

I am 90 years old, dwindling in mind and body and fear living too long. Twenty years have passed since I last weighed anchor. Still, when a Carolina blue sky is polka-dotted with billowing cumulus clouds and the wind blows fair, I sorely miss raising sail and setting forth. I ...read more

DSC_0145

Waterlines: Solo Sailing

In spite of the fact I came to the sport of sailing alone and untutored, in a boat I acquired on my own, I never really aspired to become a solo sailor. It just sort of happened. All these years later, I still never explicitly plan to sail anywhere alone. I’m always happy to ...read more