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Old 17-04-2012, 18:36   #46
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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That's now part of the Racing Rules of Sailing. Rule 4, about the decision to race, specifies: 'The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone."
Yes Bash, and rightly so. We've too much of this Nanny State rubbish.
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Old 17-04-2012, 19:19   #47
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

I don't see my suggestion as "Nanny State".
Believe me, I'm as anti nanny as you can get, but it just seems to me that the racing committee could set a lat/lon as a mark rather than a pile of rocks.
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Old 17-04-2012, 19:29   #48
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

They could but it wouldn't be as interesting.
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Old 17-04-2012, 19:30   #49
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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For example, the race could be called if the winds get up over 15 knots or the waves reach one meter.

That would make racing around the Farrallones almost impossible. Conditions there are almost never that benign. 25 knot winds and 10' swell is pretty standard weather for those waters, actually would almost be considered relatively calm by those who sail those waters a lot. Of course there's many different descriptions of 10' swell. I don't think the conditions were the problem at all. It's often blowing 30 with 4-6' chop inside the Gate, outside can be ugly.
I'm with SenorMechanico, no reason they couldn't set an arbitrary mark to round that would be safer, instead of rewarding those who take the greatest risk.
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Old 17-04-2012, 19:57   #50
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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The race instructions are quite simple. Round the Farallons and return. It is up to the Master of the boat to make the decision as to how close or far one stands from the "mark". At some point, one has to/needs to take responsibility for ones own actions/decisions. Your comments are similar to the Monday Morning Quarter-backing/Lamenting that went on after the Fastnet in '79. The race committee stipulates the marks. Period. Most race instructions today carry all kinds of disclaimers. Racing--in fact sailing--includes inherent/native dangers. If you can't handle it, don't go to sea. How hard is that to understand?
Race committees often lay marks in a manner designed to offset our inherent risk taking - think of the offset marks in some major regattas.

We saw a similarly unfortunate incident here in Sydney with the tragic passing of two sailors in the 2009 Flinders Islet Race, and there was much discussion around using islets as marks then too.

Fact of the matter is, the technology to be able to do anything different than use a landmass as marks is new. As GPS trackers become more frequent in races (a good thing in my mind - only way you can get 'spectators' for an offshore race) I like the idea of having a minimum standoff from the mark - like negative buoy room - i.e. mark could be "Flinder Islet, but no boat shall pass within X distance of shore", or perhaps pick a point in the centre and draw a circle with a radius sufficient to provide safety. Disqualify anyone who goes within the circle (as evidenced from their GPS tracker).

I agree we all need to take responsibility for our actions, but I also know it's been scientifically proven we act irrationally - having race committees take our inherent risk taking nature into account and help out, now that the technology is available & relatively affordable, doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
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Old 17-04-2012, 20:07   #51
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

According to the KTVU news channel, the accident is being investigated by the Tiburon police since the Farallons are in their jurisdiction. The officer being interviewed said that they had not yet spoken to the owner/captain. Will be interesting to see what the outcome is, still won't help the victims.
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Old 17-04-2012, 20:52   #52
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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Perhaps if you are really serious about saving lives you could propose limits for wind and waves. For example, the race could be called if the winds get up over 15 knots or the waves reach one meter. In this scenario I think experienced racers would be pretty safe.

I think experienced sailors know the risks and can plan accordingly with respect to their personal risk tolerance.

I for one don't need someone making rules for my personal safety. BTW, I am pretty conservative in safety practices on the water. However, that is my choice.
Look, ultimately it is the responsibility of the skipper to decide whether to race or not, and/or what course to take.

Here in S. California, we have a situation where if the winds exceed 15 knots, the Coast Guard raises the small craft advisory flag. Yes, there are times when folks should not be sailing in these conditions; however, these are some of the best sailing around. We don't need the government or other committee to dictate sailing. If so, we'd sail to the Santa Monica bell buoy and call it a day.
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Old 17-04-2012, 20:56   #53
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

I have gone around the Farallon Islands a few times and a couple times racing in the Doublehanded Farallons Race. I obviously do not know the details of this situation, but there is a great tendency, particularly among the ballsy racers to cut very close to the weather shore as you round the island. I watched the guy ahead of me cut breathtakingly close inside the weather surf line and pick up more than 100 yards instantly on us--and make it through. I remember telling my crew I would not do that for anything and that someone would buy it in that situation in a future race. As a former racer and old guy, I do not believe these Islands should be used for a racing mark for this reason. Again, I do not know anything specific other than what was reported in the media about this incident, but it is not hard to imagine the circumstance if you have been out there.

The waves are ocean waves at the Farallons, but this is not the Potato Patch or San Francisco Bar that trips the ocean into some unusually large waves on a regular basis. But the natural ocean swell has nothing to slow it down on the windward side of these islands. I know that others have been lost in other Farallons races over the years, but I do not recall the specifics. I had thought that race organizers had discontinued using the actual islands as a mark and were using a buoy just to the east of the islands to avoid this kind of problem, but I must have been mistaken. The area off San Francisco, because of the fetch, shoaling and prevailing winds, needs much respect.
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Old 17-04-2012, 21:04   #54
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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Look, ultimately it is the responsibility of the skipper to decide whether to race or not, and/or what course to take.

Here in S. California, we have a situation where if the winds exceed 15 knots, the Coast Guard raises the small craft advisory flag. Yes, there are times when folks should not be sailing in these conditions; however, these are some of the best sailing around. We don't need the government or other committee to dictate sailing. If so, we'd sail to the Santa Monica bell buoy and call it a day.
It sseems that off the Oregon coast small crafts start at 25 knots. Michael..
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Old 17-04-2012, 21:10   #55
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

I routinely sail through the entrance to our home dock with only several inches under the board and a foot on each side of the amas (often at 8 knots, note wake in the next to last pic) but the possibility of death is a lot less.
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Old 17-04-2012, 21:48   #56
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

In the days before GPS chart plotters, the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West race created the same risk/reward trade off.

The closer you ran to the reefs the less northing current you faced. Close enough in and you might even catch a counter current here and there. It was a navigator's race. Normally a very fast reach/run affair, it was not the best sailor who won, but the best navigator.

This left racers with not just one set of rocks to flirt with, but miles and miles of them, usually on the lee. Unlike the Farallons, they are submerged and just as deadly to a racing boat.

Racers will be racers, Rules requiring boats to finish with all of the crew members who began the race were borne out of ocean racing skipper's refusals to retrieve a man overboard, due to losing the race. Let's hope the race committee leaves the rules alone. If they want safe sailing, we can sail automated boats with GPS courses.

This is a terrible tragedy, and these men knew the risks. They died while living, not sitting in front of a television. May they win every race in the hereafter!



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Old 17-04-2012, 23:56   #57
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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Here in S. California, we have a situation where if the winds exceed 15 knots, the Coast Guard raises the small craft advisory flag.
That's way below the common criteria. Seems the USCG has little confidence with southern California boaters' capabilities.
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Old 18-04-2012, 00:01   #58
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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I don't see my suggestion as "Nanny State".
Believe me, I'm as anti nanny as you can get, but it just seems to me that the racing committee could set a lat/lon as a mark rather than a pile of rocks.
Virtual marks! And think how much safer it would be to race virtual boats around them.

We could start a fantasy league for crew!
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Old 18-04-2012, 04:39   #59
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

Whilst I have no fundamental problem with a race being set around an island and leaving it up to the Skipper to judge and then take own risks.....in the shoes of the organisers I think it would be prudent to set an exclusion zone around the island (whether 100 yards or 10 miles - so can still say "around the island" etc), the reason being simply to head off the "something must be done" / "think of the children" brigade .

Won't prevent the next tragedy - nothing will.
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Old 18-04-2012, 05:24   #60
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Re: Rogue-wave tragedy at the Farallons

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Virtual marks! And think how much safer it would be to race virtual boats around them.

We could start a fantasy league for crew!
That seems a rather churlish response to a worthy suggestion.

If virtual marks (including no-go zones; same thing) help avoid the unecessary loss of our fellow sailors on distant rocks, I'm all for it. It's a race; not a war.

Virtual marks have other potential benefits also, like making it easy to set good and challenging courses no matter from where the wind blows; as well as being less onerous for the OOD.

I'd be surprised if virtual marks are not the way of the future. There'll be the naysayers, but I guess some folks will always be scathing of something new.
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