Mac Race Continues Inquiry into Drowning

Author:
Publish date:
The Chicago Yacht Club is trying to determine why Jon Santarelli’s (inset) lifejacket failed to inflate after he fell overboard; conditions at the time were rough, but not unduly so (above)  Photo courtesy of Chicago YC/Michele Almeida

The Chicago Yacht Club is trying to determine why Jon Santarelli’s (inset) lifejacket failed to inflate after he fell overboard; conditions at the time were rough, but not unduly so (above) Photo courtesy of Chicago YC/Michele Almeida

After spending months investigating the death of sailor Jon Santarelli, who went overboard from the TP52 Imedi shortly after the start of the 2018 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, the Chicago YC is now looking into the question of inflatable lifejacket safety with an eye toward making the race even safer in the future.

In the words of the Chicago YC, “The inquiry's goal is to present new solutions, guidelines, and education to both sailors and the greater boating community about the design, maintenance, and effectiveness of auto-inflate PFDs commonly used by boaters worldwide.”

Santarelli was lost on July 21 shortly after the Turbo Section Start of the 110th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac as Imedi was sailing upwind in winds of 20-25 knots and short-period waves averaging 6 to 8ft.

“These conditions were uncomfortable, but not uncommon, well within the experience of the crew onboard Imedi that day and certainly within the design parameters of the yacht itself,” the Chicago YC says.

The club goes on to say that immediately prior to going overboard, Santarelli was trimming sail from behind the helm when, he lost his footing, slid under lifelines aft and off the stern. Although Santarelli was not clipped in with a tether, he was wearing an auto-inflatable PFD, designed with a hydrostatic trigger. However, the PFD failed to inflate.

“Crewmembers on board Imedi observed Santarelli slide off the back of the yacht, immediately shouted ‘man overboard,’ assigned crewmember observers to mark his position, and then performed a "quick-stop" maneuver in under one minute,” the club says. “Imedi was able to make three close approaches to Santarelli during which they observed that his PFD had not inflated. The team members threw additional flotation, which he was unable to reach. During the third approach, the crew observed him slip under the water and sadly not resurface. Based upon Imedi’s navigational software, the duration of the immediate rescue effort and subsequent loss of Santarelli occurred in approximately six minutes.”

Santarelli’s body was recovered a week later. According to the Coast Guard, Santarelli was wearing his life vest when he was found, but it had still not inflated. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard was not able to perform a full analysis of the vest because it had been incinerated without the Coast Guard’s prior knowledge. However, the CO2 cartridge was still available for its review. For more on the accident and investigation, click here

October 2018

Related

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more