On April 14, 2012, the eight-man crew aboard Low Speed Chase encountered greater than average breaking waves during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco. These waves capsized the Sydney 38 and it was pushed onto the rocks at Maintop Island, the northwest point of Southeast Farallon Island. All the crew were thrown overboard and only two managed to survive the incident.
A US Sailing individual review team has been investigating the accident and has released their report on the findings. The team used a series of interviews, all factual information and reviewed all available GPS and weather data that were available at the time.
They found that the course was the direct cause of the incident; however better safety gear could have prevented so many deaths. These include, better communication and improved personal safety gear such as harnesses. These did not directly affect the outcome of the accident although they may have reduced the number of deaths.
They found that the reason for the accident and the deaths was the course sailed and if a more conservative course were sailed to avoid the breaking seas this accident may have been avoided.
Coast Guard Sector San Francisco called for an offshore racing safety stand down to provide the time necessary to review safety procedures. US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, conducted an independent review of the sailing accident and investigated the circumstances in an attempt to help reduce the chance of future similar tragedies and make offshore racing safer.
The members of the panel include Chairman, Sally Lindsay Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.), 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. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.) and Dr. Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.) advised on investigation procedures and formats. Panelist bios are included in the report.
To see the full report head to US Sailing Report
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