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Sailing World Cup: Italian sailor hospitalised after foiling incident

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 27 Aug 2019 03:45 PDT 27 August 2019
Lorenzo Bressani and Cecilia Zorzi (ITA) competing at the 2018 World Nacra 17 Championships at Aarhus, Denmark © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

One of ITA Nacra17 team has been injured in an incident when sailing at speed downwind, ahead of the Sailing World Cup event in Enoshima, Japan

Following collision with another boat, for'ard hand Cecilia Zorzi fell overboard and the rudder aileron blade hit her on the right leg. This resulted into a deep cut with loss of tissue from tibialis anterior (forward side of the lower leg muscle). Bleeding was reported as being "copious".

Zorzi was immediately rescued by ITA Team coach Gabriele Bruni who brought her aboard the RIB and assisted with tourniquet, disinfection and sterile gauze as per team procedures.

Bruni was also first responder in another Nacra 17 incident where US sailor Bora Gulari suffered a partial loss of three fingers on his right hand.

Ashore she was treated immediately at the First Aid station where doctors, after examination, decided to send Zorzi to Fujisawa Municipal Hospital a 15 minute trip by ambulance.

X-rays showed there was no bone damage and the soft tissue treatment was done under local anaesthesia.

Three hours after the incident Zorzi left the hospital and a decision was made that she could race in the regatta. She and skipper Lorenzo Bressani picked up a startline infringement, scoring maximum points, in the first race of the series, and they finished sixth in the second.

The Italian sailing team report, apparently by Michele Marchesini, Technical Director of the Italian team, commented that "every single link in the medical chain worked well".

Full translation services were provided according to the report.

The report stressed that like with other foiling classes the very first actions on the water are the most important. "Coaches are essential for this, they must be properly trained and have adequate first aid kit onboard," said the report.

It was noted that this was the sixth foiling injury in 20 months for the Italian team alone. While the consequences of this incident appear to be, fortunately, relatively minor - but that is just a matter of luck as to what part of the body was struck by the foil - and the situation could have been a lot more serious, as others have been.

Subsequent to this report, the 49er/Nacra 17 issued their own statement on foiling safety issues and procedure which is as follows:

International Nacra 17 Class Association

Safety Statement

A safety incident occurred in training just before the Sailing World Cup in Enoshima, Japan. A Nacra 17 crew was struck by the rudder and elevator resulting in a cut. The crew was immediately rescued by a coach in attendance where a tourniquet was applied to stem the bleeding and steps were taken to counter any infectious matter.

The coach then brought the sailor to shore where they were then brought, by ambulance, to the local hospital. World Sailing, along with the Japanese Sailing Federation had a safety plan in place, including translation services, which worked well. The sailor was given immediate medical attention. After a few hours the sailor was released from hospital, and after overnight rest and recovery they have decided to sail in the regatta. The injuries amounted to a cut to the leg that did not require stitches and bruising.

The Nacra 17 Class was made aware of the foil strike incident overnight. Safety is a core value of the Class, and we are working diligently to reduce the risks and consequences of sailing incidents in the Nacra 17.

Over the last 20 months the Class:

- has recommended that Nacra Sailing consider, in the short term, removing the torpedo on the elevator and making the leading edge more blunt, and/or replacing the current elevators to blunter elevators built without a torpedo - has led a joint working party made up of sailors, the Class executive, and Nacra Sailing to develop long term improvements to safety through re-engineering elements of the Nacra 17 design. The most promising of these options are currently being tested. - set up a safety working party to look into how to reduce the number of foil strikes and to minimize their severity. One of the items this WP brought forward was in the training of coaches for first aid incidents, and training was run for coaches prior to the 2019 Europeans specifically in how to apply a tourniquet, among other items. - The Class is liaising with World Sailing on an ongoing basis with respect to safety plans, best practices and the reporting of these incidents in a consistent manner - The Class has researched and commissioned cut protective pants from a company who specialize in cut protective clothing. These pants will be delivered to sailors in Auckland at the 2019 World Championships - The Class is engaged with safety personnel from SailGP, GC32 and America’s Cup to ensure we adopt, and are informed of, current best practices, where applicable - The Class is looking at safety on three fronts: Avoidance, Engineering, and Personal Protection.

Avoidance is the removal of the threat. In this area we have focused on reducing the risk of man overboard situations through improved trapezing systems and improved maintenance practices.

On the engineering front, we have recommended to Nacra Sailing seven cascading and cooperative measures to reduce the frequency and consequences of man overboard situations. Nacra Sailing is working through the development of these options and has begun testing on the first and more promising options.

On the personal protective equipment front, we have commissioned custom cut protective pants from a company that specializes in cut protective clothing for athletes. These suits are currently being manufactured and will be delivered to the entire fleet prior to the 2019 World Championships in Auckland.

All sailors should review the the blog post previously issued after an incident last year.

The Nacra 17 Class will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our sailors. It is an ongoing and continual process.

Marcus Spillane President International Nacra 17 Class Association

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