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Gipsy Moth Skipper and Mate Sacked

by Nancy Knudsen on 21 May 2006
Gipsy Moth IV being lifted in New Zealand . .
The 53ft ketch Gipsy Moth IV was on the 11th leg of the trip, from the South Pacific island Marquesas to Tahiti, when she hit the fringing reef on the north-west corner of the Rangiroa Atoll. The yacht suffered an eight-inch hole in its hull.

A salvage crew rescued her to the reef and she was towed to Papeete and then transhipped to Auckland where she is being repaired.

The Press Release was terse, brief, and lacking detail. Both paid hands on the Gipsy Moth IV, the 32 year old Skipper Antonia Nicholson and First Mate Chris Bruce, 24, both from Cowes have been sacked.

There is still nothing known of the last minutes of the sailing journey of Gipsy Moth IV which put her onto a reef in Tahiti. However, the quick outcome of the enquiry by the United Kingdom Sailing Academy(UKSA) who were responsible for the Gipsy Moth says it all.

The paid crew also had responsibility for young and disabled people travelling on the boat at the time. The world sailing community will be sad to learn this outcome, but any skipper of a vessel in the sea bears a large responsibility for all the lives aboard as well as the vessel. Appeals against the decision are yet to be lodged.

Read on for the full statement from the UKSA:

Outcomes of the Inquiry into the cause of the grounding of Gipsy Moth on the reef in the South Pacific on Saturday 29th April 2006.

Subsequent to the recent grounding of Gipsy Moth IV in the South Pacific, the UKSA convened a board of inquiry into the cause of the incident. The board, which included a former specialist navigator from the Royal Navy who is also a Yachtmaster Ocean Examiner considered all the issues relating to the safe navigation of the vessel and the safety of the crew.

Following the outcome of the inquiry there then followed disciplinary meetings with both the Skipper and the Mate. The evidence that had been made available to the inquiry was made available to the Skipper and Mate who were give an opportunity to respond to concerns raised about compliance with their responsibilities for the safe navigation of the vessel and the safe conduct of the crew.

The outcome of both disciplinary meetings was that both the Skipper and the Mate were dismissed from the Academy. They both have a right of appeal although it is too early to say if an appeal will be lodged.


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