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Crewed Farallones preliminary findings released by US Sailing

by Jake Fish on 25 May 2012
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A US Sailing Independent Review Panel has now released a set of preliminary findings and recommendations from the research conducted on the 2012 Crewed Farallones Race that resulted in the deaths of five sailors from sailboat, Low Speed Chase, on April 14, 2012.

The panel presented this information to the new San Francisco Bay Offshore Racing Council, which includes local race organizers and yacht clubs, on Tuesday, May 22. The council has developed its goals to enhance safety and communications practices for all upcoming offshore events in the Bay area.

The US Sailing preliminary recommendations are as follows:

1 - Enhanced training of sailors in seamanship and piloting, including understanding of wave development in shoaling waters and safe distance off a lee shore.

2 - Once-a-season training seminars in appropriate safety gear and mandatory skippers' meeting for offshore races.

3 - Assurance of compliance with existing Minimum Equipment Requirements, including post-race inspections.

4 - Improved race management, including accountability for boats on the course, crew members' information, compliance with Coast Guard Marine Event Permit conditions, and improved communication with sailors and Coast Guard.

5 - Consistency of protocol and requirements for all Bay Area offshore races.

Panel Chairman, Sally Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.) explains, 'The US Sailing Independent Review Panel for the Low Speed Chase accident has completed a substantial amount of its fact-finding agenda, including a questionnaire to all racers in the Fully-crewed Farallones Race; personal interviews with racers, including survivors and witnesses; and plots and analysis of two dozen GPS tracks around Southeast Farallon Island.'

'We are heartened by the seriousness with which the council has set priorities and assigned tasks to meet their mandate,' continued Honey. 'We believe they are off to a good start in achieving more consistency between the various organizing authorities and making offshore racing safer for all.'

'I am especially pleased with US Sailing's outreach to the boating community both by conducting interviews and by briefing the preliminary findings to the newly formed local offshore racing council,' said Capt. Cynthia Stowe, Coast Guard Captain of the Port of San Francisco. 'The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous support of the offshore race organizers and sponsoring yacht clubs. It’s the coordination and support from this local community which will ensure we learn all that we can from this tragic loss.'

The members of the panel including Honey are John Craig (San Rafael, Calif.), Jim Corenman (Friday Harbor, Wash.), Bill Barton (Boston, Mass.) and Bartz Schneider (Crystal Bay, Nev.). Offshore Special Regulations Consultant on the panel is Evans Starzinger (Milford, Conn.). The Safety-at-Sea Committee Chair and panel liaison is Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Medical advisors are Dr. Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.) and Dr. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.) will advise on investigation procedures and formats.

A full report from the panel will be released by US Sailing in June.

For relevant inquiries regarding the Farallones review or to provide pertinent information and helpful commentary on the incident or race, please contact US Sailing at farallonesreview@ussailing.org. US Sailing website
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