300 sailors attend US Sailing Safety at Sea seminar in Toronto.

John Rousmaniere listens in the background as John Bonds answers questions from the audience at the Toronto Safety at Sea seminar, April 2010
A resounding success for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club! The last event of this kind in Toronto was almost 10 years ago; as such, a number of RCYC offshore racing enthusiasts, led by Carson Woods, took it upon themselves to organize what they believed was a much needed seminar for the Toronto, ON sailing and boating community; attendance at yesterday event exceeded their wildest dream yesterday when a large number of sailors simply showed up at the doors of the OISE auditorium, near the RCYC city-side facility to register for the event and boost participation to 300.

A quick show of of hand from the audience, following the introduction of US Sailing Safety at Sea John Rousmaniere and John Bonds, key speakers for the day, thought us that the room was divided almost in half between racers and cruisers; a handful of participants were present to satisfy the requirements of the Newport-Bermuda race, where attendance is mandatory, many others were looking to improve their skills in preparation for the Mackinaw races while the majority of racers of racers were local enthusiast preparing for the Lake Ontario 300. The large number of cruisers in the audience clearly demonstrates that safety at sea is a serious concern for everyone and is not limited to racers.

John Bonds and John Rousmaniere highlight the features of a life-raft at the Toronto Safety at Sea seminar, April 2010

John Rousmaniere and John Bonds have been conducting these Safety at Sea seminar for more years that they probably care to admit. Writer-sailor-lecturer John Rousmaniere , a veteran of 40,000 offshore miles, nine Newport Bermuda races and two Fastnet Races has already spoken at a hundred US SAILING or North U boating safety seminars in the U.S., Canada, and England. He is a member of the US SAILING Safety at Sea Committee, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, the Cruising Club of America, and the New York Yacht Club. Capt. John Bonds's credentials include: USN (Ret.) First Director of Navy Sailing, former Commodore Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, former Executive Director US SAILING and he is the past chairman of US SAILING Safety at Sea and Training Committees. The audience was in good hands! Their combined experience and level of knowledge is simply unbelievable;yet, the both manage to keep the highly instructive presentations entertaining through their sharp sense of humor, incredible story-telling abilities and bagful of anecdotes for every situation. Together, they covered such important topics as: water survival and floatation options, crew overboard rescue, flares and helicopter rescue, heavy weather sailing, damage control and repair and giving and receiving aid.

A number of guest speakers contributed to the high quality content of the event: sailors were introduced to the roles and responsibilities and inner workings of the Canadian Search And Rescue operations by representatives from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton; local ship-routing and weather expert Herb Hilgenberg, provided weather patterns insight that will contribute to safety at sea; Michael Chapman, a Toronto surgeon and J/105 racer, entertained the audience with graphic slides pertaining to hypothermia, sunstroke, sea sickness and major trauma and Tom Anderson, from Seaway Marine Transport, provided valuable information regarding commercial vessels and their navigational constraints on the Great Lakes.

Tanya Eyram, from Chubb Insurance, shares boating risks information at the Toronto Safety at Sea seminar, April 2010

These types of events wouldn't be possible without sponsors active involvement. Chubb Insurance stepped in early on as the key sponsor for the seminar; Chubb's Tanya Eram shared their unique perspective on preparing for everyday boating risks. Other sponsors contributing to the event include RCYC, Canadian Yachting and Rigging Shoppe.

Participants were sent home at the end of a long day with a smile on their face and their loot bag full of important resources for continuous learning. Well done!

An attentive audience at the Toronto Safety at Sea seminar, April 2010
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