EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. This US SAILING Safety Review answers two questions: What should American Sailors learn from the RAMBLER 100 capsize during the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race and what improvements to US SAILING Procedures and Regulations might prevent a reoccurrence of this incident. Survivors were left with no access to lifesaving equipment or emergency communications with boats sailing near them and rescue forces searching around them for two PLBs whose registration did not identify their boat. The review was completed independent of any technical analysis of the keel fracture and it is based primarily on the narratives of all 21 of the crew members and situation reports of the SAR authorities.
To the surprise of all survivors there was no time to take anything with them. All they could do is get clear of the capsizing hull and its rigging as the boat inverted. The struggle to do this and the focus on how the safety equipment they had with them worked is combined into their suggestions for the future. The overwhelming opinion of the survivors is that a combination offshore lifejacket & safety harness is not complete without wearing crotch/thigh straps, the ISAF recommended Sprayhood/Splashguard, a tether/safety line and adequate signaling equipment (Bright light, flare(s), whistle and PLB).
This review recommends changes to the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations to require boats with movable ballast to have ready escape capability and safety equipment accessible if the boat becomes inverted. It also recommends several changes to offshore racing regulations and procedures including full implementation of required ISAF Survival Training in the US for offshore sailors.
The training, experience and calm manner of handling this horrific incident by a group of world class professionals is credited with their total survival. They worked together, helped each other and remained calm, thinking clearly about their shipmates and the next step. Combined with their individual will to survive, this professionalism resulted in a 100% outcome.
Download and read the full report here.