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Farrallones Report on sailing deaths- They cut it too fine.

by Sail-World Cruising on 10 Aug 2012
Low Speed Chase’s route is in red - notice one other boat took a similar route .. .
Part of the point of an investigation into any sailing tragedy is, of course, instructional. Knowing what could have been done differently is a timely lesson to all sailors for the future, whether racing or cruising. This is particularly applicable to the findings after the sailing accident that occurred on April 14, 2012 during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco, California - they cut it too fine.

A US Sailing independent review panel has released the report on its investigation of the incident, which resulted in the deaths of five sailors from the sailboat, Low Speed Chase.


The crew of eight aboard Low Speed Chase encountered larger than average breaking waves when rounding Maintop Island, the northwest point of Southeast Farallon Island. These waves capsized the vessel, a Sydney 38, and drove it onto the rocky shore. Seven of the eight crew members were thrown from the boat into the water. Only two of those sailors in the water made it to shore and survived.


As a result of the panel’s research and analysis, they determined that the primary cause of the capsizing was due to the course sailed by Low Speed Chase, which took them across a shoal area where breaking waves could be expected.

During the course of the analysis, multiple track lines from other racers that day were obtained and are provided in the report. It is noted that the Low Speed Chase was not the only vessel which crossed or sailed very near this shoal area.

A US Sailing independent review panel ruled that S/Y Low Speed Chase, with eight crew aboard, was capsized by waves and driven into a rocky shore due primarily to the yacht's course choice.

Seven of the eight crew members were thrown from the boat into the water, two of those sailors survived.

Additional safety issues that may have increased the crews’ chances of survival included improved personal safety gear, enhanced communication between the race committee and race boats and improved race management to assist search and rescue efforts.

For the full report, http://media.ussailing.org/AssetFactory.aspx?vid=18674!click_here.

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