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

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Take no chances  This is my stern with the engine running slowly in gear against the lines. We all know that when we’re charging batteries this lets the engine warm up thoroughly. However, I have a ...read more

ZK-Seaboot-900

Gear: Zhik’s Seaboot 900

A Better Sea Boot Following up on its successful ZK Seaboot 800, Zhik’s Seaboot 900 was created in partnership with team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team, the latter the overall winner of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. Designed for serious, long-distance offshore racers and ...read more

01-LEAD-FP-Astrea-42-Gilles-martin-rajet---Navigation

Switching to Solar Offshore

No sensible bluewater sailor would consider setting off on a long cruise these days without some means of generating power other than by burning fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is becoming less expensive by the day, making it an obvious answer for providing the ...read more

190812-Tiwal-Video-600x

Video: Tiwal Cup 2019

Who says you need a superyacht to have fun? It would be hard to imagine having a better time on the water than these sailors recently did racing aboard a fleet of Tiwal inflatable sloops. ...read more

GEMINI-BATTERY-PASSAGE

Experience: No Batteries, Big Problems

After sailing on Puget Sound and in British Columbia for over 30 years, my wife, Jeri, and I retired to Florida, bought a house on Punta Gorda and worked hard to get it straight. The walls had been painted, furniture bought and assembled, belongings packed, transported and ...read more