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Old 09-08-2012, 20:06   #1
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Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Vessel = Low Speed Chase - SF Bay - Full Crew Farallones Race - April 14, 2012 Accident .................where 5 crew members were lost

US Sailing has now issued their Final Report

US Sailing Releases Full Report on Farallones Race Tragedy

Very Detailed Report:
http://media.ussailing.org/AssetFactory.aspx?vid=18674
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Old 09-08-2012, 21:35   #2
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Nice to see at least one CF member on their panel.
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:59   #3
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Are there any opinions as to the usual safety procedures employed by crew during offshore races, or at least the crews in this race?
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:11   #4
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Everyone should read the following survivor's account of the incident:
Latitude 38 - 'Lectronic Latitude
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:12   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azul View Post
Are there any opinions as to the usual safety procedures employed by crew during offshore races, or at least the crews in this race?
The word that jumps out = Usual
Reviewing past incidents both racing & cruising + reading this detailed report which included interview responses from other boats/crews - there is a wide range of choices/decisions made by the participants - which is the "usual" approach. Often those choices/decisions are never tested but in other cases when tested the results can be fatal.
Personal responsibility is often stated as the ultimate principle that must be preserved above everything else - I don't disagree.......
However - full knowledge / understanding (via training, history & current info) plus reminders by Racing orgs & Captain seams to be a reasonable suggestion / requirement for all.
Wonder if the least experienced on the boat were really aware of the potential dangers / differences of Ocean racing vs bay?
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:47   #6
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

According to the experienced survivor, it was "usual" to not clip in, the thinking being that "I can always clip in if something is about to happen." He now has a different opinion and hopes that this incident will lead to more discussion about safety procedures. It seems that four of the crew were never found, one DOA was pulled out by the Coast Guard helo jumper. Among numerous other things, I'm surprised that nine of the 30 boats weren't even bothering to monitor channel 16. The water temperature charts show the water would have been 52 degrees that day, did the three inexperienced crew know that survival in that temperature water is one to six hours when they saw the rest of the experienced crew not clipping in to exercise their personal freedoms or that the experienced captain didn't even bother to input GPS coordinates for the shoals, contributing to him turning in prematurely? This incident was not caused by racing "get there itis" as the LSC started one hour late and were at the back of the pack. One point Mr. Chong makes is that if one member of the team goes overboard due to not tethering the rest of the crew (and society at large via the Coast Guard etc) are put at excessive risk to try to rescue them.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:10   #7
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

It's kinda like things have always been, although people know how to be safer, accidents have to happen and people have to die before rules are made in order to force people to be safer.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:13   #8
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I should have included Day Sailing to by Racing/Cruising incident intro wording.
Anytime a person walks down the dock or pushes off from the beach in any water sport pursuit they have accepted the risk that comes with the rewards often it might not be a conscious "acceptance" / decision especially if it becomes routine or the conditions / area is familiar but still the same.

Clipping in - depends on the boat, sailor or guidance by Captain.....but yes, in racing (cruising too) it's not "unusual" to not be clipped in - yet like many things it just takes practice to make it pretty simple & not get in the way (with the right tether/harness gear)
If I remember correctly, the video of a SC52 that day showed a person clipped in at the wheel and another at the bow. Yet there's video of some Volvo Ocean racers not clipped in yet going much faster & taking on tons of water on deck
Some people strongly believe they will be trapped in a capsize - so they refuse, others just don't for whatever reason.....wonder how many have even tried.

Even more basic, was PDF choices - wide range demonstrated.

The other items you mentioned - water temp survival, radio monitoring, clipping in, GPS/Depth, etc - are all things that formal training - US Sailing Course = Safety at Sea and/or Race Briefings + Captain reminders seem to be appropriate for all.

The #1 take away for me from the Safety at Sea course was the Overboard teachings - Not a place you want to go at all. In this report, they mentioned the cold water shock & in the class they also mentioned just the mental disbelief that many people experience that they are actually in the water - the gap in time to "react/respond" to your situation is critical to avoid swallowing / breathing in water, getting PFD positioned properly and assessing recovery options.

http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm

Also a saying that 50% of people will perish in less than 50 mins in 50 degree water however that leads to false sense of security to those sailing in so called "warm" waters - still much cooler than body temp

My goal is to stay aboard so that is where I place my focus.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azul
, I'm surprised that nine of the 30 boats weren't even bothering to monitor channel 16...

...This incident was not caused by racing "get there itis" as the LSC started one hour late ...
it would be very unusual for a race boat to be monitoring anything other than the race channel. Usually something between 68 and 74.

The late start was defo a part of the issue as it was stated in interviews that part of their reason to cut corners was a late start.
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Old 10-08-2012, 14:41   #10
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
it would be very unusual for a race boat to be monitoring anything other than the race channel. Usually something between 68 and 74.


*In fact, 21 of the 30 boats stated they were monitoring channel 16 in the report. With so much money invested in the rest of the racing equipment, a modern radio that scans two channels seems appropriate, 16 and 68.



The late start was defo a part of the issue as it was stated in interviews that part of their reason to cut corners was a late start.
This contradicts the written statement of Mr. Chong I posted above, it seems his biggest interest was in the thrill of the return ride home with the wind at their back and he specifically states they knew they were essentially out of the race.
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Old 10-08-2012, 14:42   #11
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

You may live for an hour in water that cold but you'll be unable to do anything to save yourself within 15 minutes. From personal experience, you lose all feeling in your extremities in less than 10 minutes. The extremities shut down to save core temperature. At that point, you'll have to be saved, not save yourself. The boat was tossed up on the rocks in pretty good condition. If the crew had been able to stay or get back on board, they all would have survived.
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Old 10-08-2012, 15:20   #12
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
You may live for an hour in water that cold but you'll be unable to do anything to save yourself within 15 minutes. From personal experience, you lose all feeling in your extremities in less than 10 minutes. The extremities shut down to save core temperature. At that point, you'll have to be saved, not save yourself. The boat was tossed up on the rocks in pretty good condition. If the crew had been able to stay or get back on board, they all would have survived.

Roverhi, That is exactly correct. We lost a powerboater several years ago on Lake Michigan during the heat of Summer who went for a swim off the back of his boat and the boat drifted slowly away from him without power. The man was not able to swim back to his boat and drowned in less than 15 minutes. Sadly, when we heard the call on the VHF from another boater, we returned to the area to look for the man. The only evidence that remained was one of his shoes that had been swept off the swim platform into the water. The man was never found.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:18   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azul

This contradicts the written statement of Mr. Chong I posted above, it seems his biggest interest was in the thrill of the return ride home with the wind at their back and he specifically states they knew they were essentially out of the race.
I mat be wrong but i thought in his statement on sailing anarchy he mentions that they were an hour behind and that may be why they cut corners..

Maybe not, but why would they have taken such a tight track if they were just looking for the sleigh rde home? A safer lane would have added less than 20-30 minutes to their course and they knew they were very close in. Seems there is a bit of damage control going on to prevent grounds for any civil suits from the family members.

It is a sad situation all around
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:53   #14
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
I mat be wrong but i thought in his statement on sailing anarchy he mentions that they were an hour behind and that may be why they cut corners..

Maybe not, but why would they have taken such a tight track if they were just looking for the sleigh rde home? A safer lane would have added less than 20-30 minutes to their course and they knew they were very close in. Seems there is a bit of damage control going on to prevent grounds for any civil suits from the family members.

It is a sad situation all around
Watch the video of the fifty footer in the statement, a boat in the same race an hour ahead which took a similar track according to Chong. The 50 footer was close, and another boat was even closer to the rocks- Concordia close. From his description of the first wave, which they saw coming 30 seconds ahead and turned into to take head on, the wave broke directly on them and surfed them backward for a ways then turned the boat 90 degrees and rolled it. Mr. Chong wrapped himself around the lifelines and was still on board after the first wave but fell off while trying to retrieve crew when the second wave hit. From this description one can surmise they were actually in the surf zone which he described as a washing machine with boulders when he was in the water, not the place to be with an inflatable PFD. We deliberately take boats into the slough off Cape Lookout, it is fine if at high tide and mild swells but when the tide is low and the swells are larger I have felt a 31 foot boat being picked up and surfed and it is a shocker. With 500 horsepower you can keep the boat pointed into the wave, with a sail not so much. What strikes me the most about this whole scenario is the cavalier attitude toward safety, in retrospect almost like a suicide mission: not clipping in even during conditions when tripping and falling off the boat could prove fatal, PFD's for calm water some probably not ever inflated, sailing into a shoal which should have been easily visible without electronic navigation aids which were not employed, no safety boat present, 1/3 of the boats not available to hear a rescue call, no safety discussion, lack of general preparation of the boat and course planning- didn't have their main halyard sorted out before race morning, hugely missing the starting line and having to anchor, VHF not charged on and on. From their profiles, five of the crew were hugely experienced in long distance offshore racing and the captain (not the owner) was a hired hand.

Hemingway wrote the only true sports are mountain climbing, car racing and bullfighting... all others are just hobbies. Perhaps offshore yacht racing should be added to this list.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:37   #15
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Re: Farallones Accident/Fatalities - Final Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azul View Post
Watch the video of the fifty footer in the statement, a boat in the same race an hour ahead which took a similar track according to Chong. The 50 footer was close, and another boat was even closer to the rocks- Concordia close. From his description of the first wave, which they saw coming 30 seconds ahead and turned into to take head on, the wave broke directly on them and surfed them backward for a ways then turned the boat 90 degrees and rolled it. Mr. Chong wrapped himself around the lifelines and was still on board after the first wave but fell off while trying to retrieve crew when the second wave hit. From this description one can surmise they were actually in the surf zone which he described as a washing machine with boulders when he was in the water, not the place to be with an inflatable PFD. We deliberately take boats into the slough off Cape Lookout, it is fine if at high tide and mild swells but when the tide is low and the swells are larger I have felt a 31 foot boat being picked up and surfed and it is a shocker. With 500 horsepower you can keep the boat pointed into the wave, with a sail not so much. What strikes me the most about this whole scenario is the cavalier attitude toward safety, in retrospect almost like a suicide mission: not clipping in even during conditions when tripping and falling off the boat could prove fatal, PFD's for calm water some probably not ever inflated, sailing into a shoal which should have been easily visible without electronic navigation aids which were not employed, no safety boat present, 1/3 of the boats not available to hear a rescue call, no safety discussion, lack of general preparation of the boat and course planning- didn't have their main halyard sorted out before race morning, hugely missing the starting line and having to anchor, VHF not charged on and on. From their profiles, five of the crew were hugely experienced in long distance offshore racing and the captain (not the owner) was a hired hand.

Hemingway wrote the only true sports are mountain climbing, car racing and bullfighting... all others are just hobbies. Perhaps offshore yacht racing should be added to this list.
Hemingway was a drunk and an a-hole.
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