Sailing is a remarkably safe sport in large part because of the caring of its close-knit community. When a sailor dies, all sailors mourn and do what they can to see that such an accident does not happen again.
After two sailors’ lives were lost during the recent Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, Commodore Joseph Haas of the Chicago Yacht Club, the race’s organizer, asked US SAILING to conduct an independent study of what happened. On July 28 Gary Jobson, the President of US SAILING, appointed the Independent Review Panel for the 2011 Mackinac Race, and directed it to consider what lessons might be learned and also to make recommendations.
The members of the Independent Review Panel are (Chairman) Chuck Hawley, Santa Cruz, Cal.; Sheila McCurdy, Middletown, R.I.; Ralph Naranjo, Annapolis, Md.; and John Rousmaniere, New York, N.Y. Each is an experienced offshore sailor, a longtime member of US SAILING’s Safety-at-Sea Committee, and a moderator of US SAILING-certified Safety at Sea Seminars. The Chicago Yacht Club appointed one if its members, Leif Sigmond Jr., to serve as the club’s liaison to the panel.
The Independent Review Panel will present its report to the Chicago Yacht Club and US SAILING’s in mid to late October.
Chuck Hawley, Santa Cruz, Cal.
Chuck has sailed approximately 40,000 miles on vessels ranging from ultralight 'sleds' to single-handed sailboats to the maxi-catamaran PlayStation. His voyages include two singlehanded passages to Hawaii, three crewed trans-Pacific races, and a world record attempt on the West to East transatlantic record. Chuck has moderated many US SAILING Safety at Sea Seminars, and is also a powerboat instructor for US SAILING. He serves on US SAILING’s Safety-at-Sea Committee. He has done extensive research into crew overboard recovery, life raft design, anchor design, and storm tactics. Vice President of Product Information at West Marine, Chuck is a member of the American Boat and Yacht Council Technical Board, a former board member of the Transpacific Yacht Club, and a former Commodore of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife Susan and five daughters, and owns a Megabyte 14 sailboat and a 21’ Zodiac RIB.
Sheila McCurdy, Middletown, R.I.
Sheila McCurdy has sailed 90,000 miles offshore, including 15 Newport Bermuda Races, two Marion Bermuda Races, and many other races on either side of the Atlantic. As skipper and navigator in the 1994 and 2008 Newport Bermuda Races, she and her crew finished second overall in divisions of over 120 boats in her family boat, Selkie, a 38-foot cutter designed by her late father, Jim McCurdy. Sheila runs US SAILING’s National Faculty for Training and is a Moderator for Safety at Sea Seminars. She holds a USCG 100-ton Master’s license and a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Rhode Island. She serves as Commodore of the Cruising Club of America for 2010-11. She has been an advisor to the US Naval Academy sailing program as a member of the Fales Committee for 15 years. She serves on US SAILING’s Safety-at-Sea Committee and the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee.
Ralph Naranjo, Annapolis, Md.
Ralph Naranjo’s sailing experience includes a family voyage around the world aboard his sloop Wind Shadow. For 15 years he served as a judge for Cruising World magazine's 'Boat of the Year' Contest. He has managed a full service boatyard and consulted on boat projects. For 10 years he served as the Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, overseeing the sail training program and acting as the Academy’s lead agent on the development of the new Navy 44-foot sail training sloops. He moderates US SAILING safety at sea seminars, is a past Chairman of the Safety at Sea Committee, and has written extensively about a wide range of marine topics. He is Technical Editor of Practical Sailor and Electronics Editor for Sail.
John Rousmaniere, New York, N.Y.
John’s 40,000-plus miles of offshore sailing includes a Chicago-Mac, a Bayview-Mac, Newport Bermuda Races (twice in the second-place boat), and Fastnets. In small boats he was on a Soling pre-Olympic team and helped win a Thistle National Championship. He has moderated or spoken at more than 100 or seamanship safety seminars, and he wrote the final report of the most recent crew overboard rescue trials. His books on sailing include two on storms – Fastnet, Force 10 and After the Storm— plus the history of the Bermuda Race and The Annapolis Book of Seamanship. John is a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, and U.S. SAILING’s Safety at Sea Committee, where he coordinates the Hanson Rescue Medal program.
Leif R. Sigmond, Jr., Riverwoods, IL
Leif Sigmond is an avid sailor with offshore and inshore racing experience in both fresh water and salt water. For the past twenty years Leif has been sailing in the Chicago-area on Lake Michigan. Currently he spends much of his time skippering two boats, both named 'Norboy': a Farr 40, which he has taken in the last two Chicago to Mackinac races; and a Tartan Ten. In 2009, he sailed the Tartan Ten to a third place overall finish (second in section) in the Chicago to Mackinac race. Leif has also participated in the Marion to Bermuda race, the Around Long Island race, and other distance races in both fresh and salt water. His racing has taken him to various parts of the world. Leif grew up on the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey. In his earlier years, he raced both offshore and in dinghies and extensively cruised with his parents from the Chesapeake to Massachusetts and the Florida coasts. As a college student, Leif spent three summers teaching all levels of junior sailing at yacht clubs in New Jersey. Leif is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club, the New York Yacht Club and the Shrewsbury Sailing and Yacht Club. At the Chicago Yacht Club, Leif serves on the Board of Directors and he also chairs both the Special Regatta Committee and the Junior Activities Committee. The Junior Activities Committee oversees the sailing school and junior racing. He is the current vice-president of the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation established to provide educational opportunities and broaden the horizons for youth through nautical training and boating activities. Leif also serves on the board of the National Tartan Ten Class Association and is the former president of that organization. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Laura and his son and daughter who both participate in the Chicago Yacht Club junior program.