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Independent study on 2013 Islands Race to be conducted by US Sailing

by Matt Carter on 21 Mar 2013
2013 Islands Race map John Fuller
The 2013 Islands Race Organizing Authorities of San Diego Yacht Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club have jointly requested that US Sailing, national governing body of the sport, conduct an independent review of the sailing catastrophe that occurred during the race on Friday, March 8 off the coast of Southern California that resulted in the death of a sailor.

A panel of sailing experts will study the event and circumstances encountered by the crew of Uncontrollable Urge during the 2013 Islands Race. The panel will be responsible for researching the factors involved by reviewing safety policies and procedures, and the usage of safety equipment. The panel will determine what lessons can be learned from the accident and present recommendations for future consideration.

Crew members aboard Uncontrollable Urge encountered dangerous conditions when their vessel’s rudder failed while sailing along the shore of San Clemente Island. Rough seas drove the 32-foot sailboat into the surf line causing major damage and the crew of six were forced to abandon the vessel. When the Coast Guard arrived at the scene, five sailors were rescued but one died.

'All of us at US Sailing – our staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers - are deeply saddened by this event, and are mourning the loss of life,' said Jack Gierhart, Executive Director of US Sailing. 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends as they navigate through these very difficult times. While we cannot affect the past, we will look to learn from this tragedy to help sailors in the future and ensure sailing remains as safe as possible.'

The fourth annual Islands Race began Friday, March 8 in Long Beach and ended Saturday, March 9 in San Diego. The route is 139 nautical miles and rounds San Clemente and Catalina Islands. Uncontrollable Urge was one of 40 boats competing in the race.

The members of the Independent Review Panel are Bill Stump (Venice, Calif.), John Jourdane (Long Beach, Calif.), Dave Ullman (Santa Ana, Calif.), and Betty Sue Sherman (San Diego, Calif.). Medical expertise will be provided by Dr. Steve Shea (Long Beach, Calif.), Chief of Emergency Medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital. Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Chairman of the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee, will act as an advisor to the panel.

US Sailing has conducted several independent reviews of sailing accidents, including the 2012 Crewed Farallones Race from San Francisco, Calif. that resulted in the deaths of five sailors and the 2012 Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race that resulted in the deaths of four sailors.

Learn more about US Sailing’s Safety Reports here.

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