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Low Speed Chase - Full Crew Farallones Race 2012
Team McLube

 



Road warrior
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Apr 18, 2012, 7:10 PM

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I hope this doesn't sound like Monday morning quarterbacking. I certainly respect and share the shock and grief that all Bay Area sailors are feeling right now. But at some point in the future when considerations are put forward as to how a tragedy like this might be prevented from happening ever again, I agree with an earlier comment in hoping no new rules or restrictions be put into effect - except one. One appropriate gesture might be for San Francisco YC - perhaps in partnership with one or more other clubs - to raise funds to place a bouy at SE Farallon Island offshore of this danger zone. Boats in all the various races that round the island would be required to leave this buoy to port (inshore), thus staying well clear of the surfline or sneaker waves. The buoy could be painted with the names of the lost sailors. I don't know if this area of the island has a formal name, but if not (or even if it does) it would also be a worthy endeavor to formally bestow a name (or change the current one) on this cove as a permanent memorial to the tragic loss of these people.





Bruce Thompson
***

Apr 19, 2012, 11:16 PM

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I'd like to offer an observation about what did work. Three people were saved by helicopters summoned by VHF radio.

There is a reason the ORC regulations require offshore boats to have permanently mounted 25 watt VHF radios with masthead antennas. The effective range of such an installation is vastly superior to a 5 watt handheld. And the signal is not as vulnerable to being blocked from a line-of-sight connection to the receiving antenna by large waves. Having a personal VHF radio with you, if you fall overboard, doesn't do much good if potential rescuers 27 miles away can't hear you. So the best chance you would have is if your competitors are listening on a pre-determined channel via their masthead antennas. They are closer and have a much better chance to hear you.

Maintain a radio watch.


The Publisher
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Apr 23, 2012, 9:19 AM

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From Mike Brown, Chicago:
Mother Nature again reeks havoc upon another sailboat and their crew. I am truly sorry for the families and friends of the lost sailors. It seems as we move forward with our sailing endeavors, we can be prepared, skilled, and competent...but that can be thrown out the window when nature and it's fury decide to challenge us and put us in a life or death situation.

Many will be asking, "Did they round the island group too close? Did they not notice the sea state and current and take that into consideration while passing the Farallon Islands?" I am confident in saying that these experienced sailors knew the risk and felt safe up to the point that the catastrophe happened. They basically never saw it coming, and like what transpired in the Race to Mackinac 2011 when two lives were lost when a freakish storm blew up in the northern part of Lake Michigan, people die and the all the experience in the world will not save anyone.

My thoughts go out to them all, especially Nick Vos. Could not imagine losing someone so dear, so quickly. Keep sailing Nick and dedicate your endeavors to Alexis....

NOTE: Nick, along with James Bradford and Brian Chong, survived the accident that took the life of Marc Kasanin. Four others remain missing: Alexis Busch, Alan Cahill, Jordan Fromm, and Elmer Morrissey.


From Tim Dick:
This week, let's commit to being on the water in the spirit of Low Speed Chase.

To do what they loved, what we love. Turn out for your beer can race - make it the biggest ever, or a Saturday sail. Bring everyone you love. Stay for the party, hug everyone who is there.

This week, instead of awards for 1, 2, 3, just raise a glass: to Low Speed Chase and all who sailed aboard her.



The Publisher
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Apr 23, 2012, 9:21 AM

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FARALLONES DEATHS FOLLOW DANGEROUS YEAR IN SAILING
By Chris Museler, New York Times
(April 19, 2012) - The Farallon Islands, 28 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, are known as the Devil's teeth for their sharp, rocky spires that spring from the open ocean. They often see gale force winds and steep, breaking waves that make it a threatening shore for approaching boaters. But since the annual Full Crew Farallones Race began, in 1907, using the islands as the turning point, there had never been a fatality.

On Saturday, the San Francisco Bay was uncharacteristically calm when the 38-foot Low Speed Chase was among the 52 sailboats to start this year's race. The boat and its eight-person crew even remained in the race after nearly half the fleet had retired after three miles, when the typically powerful wind from the northwest began gusting to 25 knots.

But around 3 p.m., as conditions worsened, the Low Speed Chase was flung into the rocks while making the turn at the Farallones, and its crew went overboard. Three were rescued by Coast Guard and Air National Guard helicopters. One body was found, but four others were lost in the swirling whitewater.

With participation rising each year in ocean racing events, accidents are gaining more attention. Deaths in ocean racing are so statistically rare that when three sailors died in accidents last year, U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, decided to open its first safety investigation.

In early summer, a young girl drowned after becoming caught under a capsized dinghy in Annapolis, Md. During the biannual Race to Mackinac in Lake Michigan last July, a 35-foot sailboat capsized in a squall, trapping and killing a couple. During the Fastnet Race in August, the 100-foot Rambler, with a crew of American sailors, capsized in the Celtic Sea when the boat's ballast keel broke.

"Part of sailing is risk management," said John Rousmaniere, a member of the panel and the author of "Fastnet, Force 10," which chronicled the 1979 Fastnet Race in which 15 sailors died. "You make one little mistake in demanding conditions, and suddenly it becomes a big mistake." -- Read on: http://tinyurl.com/NYT041912


The Publisher
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Apr 23, 2012, 9:21 AM

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From Bob Billingham:
Regarding the Farallones tragedy, one wonders if we could take a lesson from the Volvo and other Southern Ocean races where the use of virtual marks is now common place to keep the boats out of the ice zone and in safer waters.

Crossing bay between the north point to the western point (or vica-versa) of the Farallon Islands has always involved a decision about how far to stand off to avoid the big waves and the leeway they create. Wouldn't a couple of virtual marks at a reasonable stand-off distances published in the race instructions help eliminate some of the risk?

This, however, may not be practical as it could require more elaborate electronics aboard the boats and for the RC to document the correct rounding position than a local racing fleet can afford, but it might be worth some thought by those who understand this better than I. Setting physical marks in those locations is not really an option.






The Publisher
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Apr 23, 2012, 9:22 AM

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From Skip Ely:
In regard to the Slow Speed Chase tragedy, in my opinion one of the most important pieces of safety gear (probably second only to PFD) that should be on the person of every offshore sailor (especially in frigid waters) is a small submersible VHF. In a MOB situation, assuming the swimmer is conscious (otherwise odds go way down) the ability to communicate with rescuers, whether airborne or seaborne, is critical. A swimmer who may be invisible to a surface craft or even a helicopter may well be able to direct the rescuers to their location. It is unclear whether this might have saved those lost in this tragedy, we may never know.


From Mario Sampaio:
Why is it every time there is an accident, the tendency is to make more rules and try to create more obstacles, as if competitors in such events were totally irresponsible idiots?

Anybody who takes a boat offshore in Force 5/6 weather to round a rock and gets too close to it, allowing their boat to be in water that is simply too shallow and will therefore, under the conditions, create strong, fierce braking waves... is going to be subject to the same type of risk of accident, as the crew of the 38' boat that was thrusted against the rocks, did.

There is simply no way that society can prevent this type of accident from happening, and creating more stringent rules that try to substitute for an individual's judgment, or lack of it, will not only not work, it will discourage people from being solely responsible for the outcome of their decisions.

Sailing's first rule is to be self sufficient. Why don't we focus on illustrating exactly what that means instead of trying to create rules that distract people from actually thinking and analyzing the repercussions of their own decisions.

I express my condolences to the families and friends of the four missing sailors.


The Publisher
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Apr 24, 2012, 12:12 PM

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Here are additional stories that had been published about the incident in Scuttlebutt:

SF Chronicle: http://tinyurl.com/SFC-041512
SF Chronicle: http://tinyurl.com/SFC-041612
MIJ: http://tinyurl.com/MIJ-041612
Latitude 38: http://tinyurl.com/Lat38-041612
Sports Illustrated: http://tinyurl.com/SI-041712
SF Chronicle (photos): http://tinyurl.com/SFC-041712
Latitude 38: http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2012-04-18

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




k38bob
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Apr 25, 2012, 2:32 AM

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In Reply To
FARALLONES DEATHS FOLLOW DANGEROUS YEAR IN SAILING
By Chris Museler, New York Times
(April 19, 2012) - The Farallon Islands, 28 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, are known as the Devil's teeth for their sharp, rocky spires that spring from the open ocean. They often see gale force winds and steep, breaking waves that make it a threatening shore for approaching boaters. But since the annual Full Crew Farallones Race began, in 1907, using the islands as the turning point, there had never been a fatality.

On Saturday, the San Francisco Bay was uncharacteristically calm when the 38-foot Low Speed Chase was among the 52 sailboats to start this year's race. The boat and its eight-person crew even remained in the race after nearly half the fleet had retired after three miles, when the typically powerful wind from the northwest began gusting to 25 knots.

But around 3 p.m., as conditions worsened, the Low Speed Chase was flung into the rocks while making the turn at the Farallones, and its crew went overboard. Three were rescued by Coast Guard and Air National Guard helicopters. One body was found, but four others were lost in the swirling whitewater.

With participation rising each year in ocean racing events, accidents are gaining more attention. Deaths in ocean racing are so statistically rare that when three sailors died in accidents last year, U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, decided to open its first safety investigation.

In early summer, a young girl drowned after becoming caught under a capsized dinghy in Annapolis, Md. During the biannual Race to Mackinac in Lake Michigan last July, a 35-foot sailboat capsized in a squall, trapping and killing a couple. During the Fastnet Race in August, the 100-foot Rambler, with a crew of American sailors, capsized in the Celtic Sea when the boat's ballast keel broke.

"Part of sailing is risk management," said John Rousmaniere, a member of the panel and the author of "Fastnet, Force 10," which chronicled the 1979 Fastnet Race in which 15 sailors died. "You make one little mistake in demanding conditions, and suddenly it becomes a big mistake." -- Read on: http://tinyurl.com/NYT041912


BTW, Chris acknowledges the error in this report that 8 sailors perished in the doublehanded race of 1982. 2 boats and crews were lost in the race. 2 additional sailors cruising were also lost. It was a fast , extreme, large storm that went into the evening http://www.nwas.org/...93/Pg2-Duckworth.pdf also Kimball http://blueplanettimes.com/?p=8844 Realize also this was before GPS and submersible VHF. In those days VHF were fixed mount below decks to protect from the elements. Before doppler radar and nearly instantaneous communication. From the Duckworth report "7. Concluding Remarks
Although the April 1982 storm was unusually severe, it
should be noted that the Gulf of the Farallones is a place
where adverse winds and waves are common. It is not a
friendly place for small craft and inexperienced sailors. The
lack of a safe anchorage or harbor of refuge reduced the
sailors to two options. Either they had to get into San Francisco
Bay, or remain at sea overnight. These were both
difficult to do in the storm condition which prevailed.
From a meteorological viewpoint, this storm disaster was
due to:
• the suddenness and severity of its onset;
• the southerly wind direction;
• the exceptionally adverse combination of wind,
weather, current, and wave conditions; and
• the duration of the storm and the advent of darkness
during its intense period.
From a sailing viewpoint, this disaster was due to most
of the same kinds of events that have plagued ocean racing
events for years. These include those alluded to in this article
and described in an admirable report by Forbes et al. (1979).
The Forbes' report was prepared after the 1979 Fastnet Race
(from Cowes, England, to the Fastnet Rock off the south
coast of Ireland and then to Plymouth) ended with a tragic
loss oflife and sailing vessels. The five sections in that report
tell the story. They are entitled: Background, Weather, Ability
of the Yachts and their Equipment to Withstand the
Storm, Ability of Skippers and Crews to Withstand the
Storm, and The Search and Rescue Phase.
The April 1982 storm offered up a serious challenge to all
those involved. The loss of people and vessels was tragic.
The overall experience should remind all that it is serious
business to sail off the northern California coast in stormy
weather. It is concluded that the losses in the April 1982
storm would have been truly more devastating had it not
been for the NWS gale warnings broadcast over the VHF
radio, the successful rescues by the USCG, and the outstanding
examples of survival sailing and rescues by the sailors
exposed.
It is also concluded that the usefulness of the NWS coastal
area marine forecast could be enhanced if the forecast statement
contained more information about the possible occurrence
of extreme wind and wave conditions, and more
emphasis was given to those conditions in the VHF radio
broadcast."


k38bob
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Apr 25, 2012, 2:46 AM

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In Reply To
I'd like to offer an observation about what did work. Three people were saved by helicopters summoned by VHF radio.

There is a reason the ORC regulations require offshore boats to have permanently mounted 25 watt VHF radios with masthead antennas. The effective range of such an installation is vastly superior to a 5 watt handheld. And the signal is not as vulnerable to being blocked from a line-of-sight connection to the receiving antenna by large waves. Having a personal VHF radio with you, if you fall overboard, doesn't do much good if potential rescuers 27 miles away can't hear you. So the best chance you would have is if your competitors are listening on a pre-determined channel via their masthead antennas. They are closer and have a much better chance to hear you.

Maintain a radio watch.


I agree masthead is best. I have a 2nd antennae on the radar tower in case the mast is dropped. Handheld VHF was sufficient for saving my friend Dave "Wilhite knew there was a waterproof handheld VHF in a sheet bag in the submerged cockpit. "I was presented with a choice," Wilhite said. "I remembered a line from Shawshank Redemption: 'Get busy living or get busy dying.'" So he took a deep breath, let go of the lifeline and swam back under the boat!

Let's pause for a moment to let that sink in. In 12- to 14-ft seas with 40-knot winds, this man with a pair of cojones the size of Texas and Alaska combined, let go of a perfectly good boat to swim back under it. If you're looking for a modern-day hero, look no farther than Dave Wilhite.

Miraculously, the VHF didn't fall out of the sheet bag when the boat flipped. Once Wilhite resurfaced, Servais, who'd managed to pull himself mostly out of the water, took over communications with the Coast Guard, calling a mayday around 8:23 p.m. Servais told the Coast Guard their approximate location — eight miles from the Gate — and that they were near a couple of Moore 24s. The pilot boat California was near the scene and began searching. Two USCG rescue boats and a helo were dispatched as well."

http://www.latitude38.com/...yid=251#.T5fGq7Pgi8A


The Publisher
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Apr 25, 2012, 9:56 AM

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ONBOARD ACCOUNT
On Saturday, April 14, 2012, one sailor died and four others remain missing after waves pummeled James Bradford's Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase, which was competing in the 28nm Full Crew Farallones Race, sponsored by San Francisco Yacht Club in San Francisco, CA.

Bradford, along with Nick Vos and Bryan Chong, survived the accident that took the life of Marc Kasanin. The four that remain missing are Alexis Busch, Alan Cahill, Jordan Fromm, and Elmer Morrissey.

The following onboard account is provided by Bryan Chong...
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A Letter to the Community:

This letter goes out to a devastated sailing community still confused about the events surrounding the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race. There have been inaccuracies in the media, mostly stemming from the survivors' silence as James ("Jay"), Nick and I are still reeling from tragedy and the loss of close friends and loved ones.

I've chosen to use Sailing Anarchy, Seahorse, Latitude 38, and Scuttlebutt for distributing this story because they're of a kindred spirit and were the favorites amongst the crew of Low Speed Chase and those who already know the answer to the question, "Why would you sail in the ocean on a windy day with big swells?"

I've also included the Marin Independent Journal and The Tiburon Ark, as they're the hometown newspapers in an area teeming with sailors. Many sailors relocate from around the world to Marin and the Tiburon Peninsula in order to live in proximity to the world's best sailing. Alan Cahill moved from Cork, Ireland to race sailboats professionally in the Bay Area and the Pacific Ocean. He was the best man in our wedding and will be dearly missed while I journey this planet.

This letter does not contain every detail, but my account should provide a basic understanding of our day on the water and what happened after the first wave hit our boat. It is meant both to illustrate how things can look normal until one event changes everything and to begin to address what we can learn. It's my hope and intention that it will spark a wider dialogue within the sailing community about safety standards and, more importantly, safety practices.

Why do we sail?

A sailor's mindset is no different from that of any other athlete who chooses to participate in a sport that has some risk. It's a healthy addiction. Despite the highly publicized deaths of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy, skiers all over the world continue to hit the slopes each winter. Sitting on the couch is safer than ripping down a slope, but the reward makes the risk worthwhile.

Next, we should all agree there are a wide variety of interests within the sailing community. Some sailors prefer racing to cruising, small boats to big, or lakes to oceans. We all make personal decisions about the risks we're willing to take to enjoy our own brand of sailing.

Naturally, I have personal preferences. I most enjoy one-design and ocean racing. I generally consider sailing to be at its finest when you're coming around a mark alongside 20 identical boats, or when you're in the ocean with a kite up on a windy day, the wave action is perfect and you're surfing downwind at speeds usually reserved for powerboats. I was a guest crewmember on Low Speed Chase and I got the sense the others were seeking the same downhill ride back from the Farallones as I was. There were eight sailors on board: one professional, six experienced sailors and one sailor excited for his first ocean race.

Read on: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/12/0424/

COMMENT: It was a pleasure to speak with Bryan about his experience, and an honor to share his words, unedited. I hope he soon finds the peace he needs to hop back on the horse. The sport needs him. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

SALVAGE: Crews took advantage of a small window of time on Monday to salvage the Low Speed Chase racing yacht and bring it back from The Farallon Islands. The boat Low Speed Chase was lifted and flown 28 miles on Monday in a delicate salvage operation. The 15,000 pound yacht was hoisted from the rocks and brought to the Half Moon Bay Airport just before 7 p.m. It was really quite something to see the big boat dangling midair and there were plenty of spectators as the boat was coming in and they kept saying "amazing." -- Video, full report: http://tinyurl.com/ABC-042412


The Publisher
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Apr 26, 2012, 7:07 AM

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From Tim Dick:
Bryan Chong has (beautifully) written an exceptional and important account (in Scuttlebutt 3577) of this tragedy, with many lessons learned for all of us. First of all, thank you to Bryan for his courage to share.

The one phrase that caught me was "I estimate we're inside of 10 boat lengths ­ which is 128 yards on a Sydney 38 - from the beginning of the break zone. Our distance looks safe and no one on the boat comments." That zone does not take into account fairly frequent "big sets", "sneaker waves" or whatever you want to call them that are often double the height of average waves - and consequently break far outside the average surf line.

Surfers may know this better because they sit in "the lineup" waiting for these waves. Go watch a surf line some time for at least half an hour. Watch the "big sets" (typically 2-3 waves) come in and break way outside the "surfline." Perhaps those of us in Hawaii are more conscious of this phenomenon, so give such shores a very wide berth. Something to consider.


From Patrick Blaney:
Thank you for that heart wrenching letter from Bryan Chong; it's a refreshingly honest and thoughtful account of what happened and happens when things go wrong, as they will in any adventure sport where the limits are tested. I share your hopes for him and the other survivors, and my heart goes out to the families of those who have been lost, including 2 fellow countrymen.

I read recent reports which I think were issued by US Sailing on prior tragedies in the Chicago Mackinac Race and with Rambler in the Fastnet.

Do you know where I can get those reports (online if possible), they were also refreshingly factual and contained excellent recommendations. I hope that the same (report) is done here, we can all learn from the experiences of others. I want to send the 2 original reports to some of my sailing friends - Safety is an Attitude of Mind as much as anything else!

EDITOR NOTE: In October 2011, US Sailing released three independent panel reports on accidents that occurred in 2011 involving U.S. participants: the 2011 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac accident involving WingNuts, the youth sailing 420 tragedy on Severn River, and the Rambler 100 incident. Here are direct links to the reports:

Chi-Mac: http://media.ussailing.org/AssetFactory.aspx?vid=16940
Youth death: http://media.ussailing.org/AssetFactory.aspx?vid=16941
Rambler 100: http://media.ussailing.org/...ctory.aspx?vid=16942



The Publisher
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Apr 29, 2012, 12:35 PM

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REMEMBER WHEN...
The Full Crew Farallones Race tragedy in San Francisco rekindled memories of the 30th Annual Doublehanded Farallones Race from two years ago. For most of the 79 competitors, the race on March 28, 2009 was a bust. Light winds led to nearly 90% of the fleet dropping out. But for the handful that stuck it out, their offwind ride home had winds in the low-20s with gusts to 30 knots.

Dave Wilhite and David Servais had invested too much preparing their J/80 to quit, and now were reveling in the conditions. Until their keel ripped off. Here is an excerpt from Latitude 38 of the race...
----------------------------------------------------------------------
"By a little after 8 p.m., we were beam reaching under jib and a reefed main," Wilhite recalls. He noted the waves were 12-14 feet with a fairly long period between, a fact the Coast Guard confirmed, though they put the wind speed closer to 40 knots. "Dave (Servais) was setting us up on a wave, reaching across it, when we heard a whuump," said Wilhite. "The helm turned to slush, the boat slowed and the wave we were shooting broke over us. Then we heard a cracking sound like a tree falling over - that was the sound of the keel ripping off."

The boat immediately turned turtle, submerging the pair, who were tethered to the boat and wearing PFDs. Wilhite had a short tether while Servais was attached with a long tether. Once the boat settled and they popped up, Wilhite realized his tether was keeping him too close to the water so he pulled out the knife he had stowed in his pocket and cut himself free. "It was weird not to be attached to the boat," he said. "Dave was holding onto the rudder and there was nothing else to grab, so I held onto the lifelines underwater. My hands are really cramped and cut up today."

It was then that they noticed why they had flipped - nothing at all was left of the keel. "It ripped off at the root," Wilhite said. "The only thing sticking out of the bottom of the boat was the bilge pump." He says he has no idea why the keel fell off - "It's not something you're prepared for" - saying there was no evidence they'd hit anything. Some wonder if it's possible they hit a large sea mammal that was moving in the same direction, but the question quickly becomes irrelevant when you're holding on for your life in the North Pacific.

Just moments after getting their bearings, the duo realized a Moore 24 - they have no idea which one - was screaming by about 100 yards away. They yelled but went unheard. "My first thought was, 'Oh my God, we're going to die.'" Instead of panicking, the two experienced sailors discussed their options. They had a knife and a compact but powerful waterproof LED flashlight that Wilhite had stowed in his pocket. But without a way to communicate, things would turn ugly fast.

Wilhite knew there was a waterproof handheld VHF in a sheet bag in the submerged cockpit. "I was presented with a choice," Wilhite said. "I remembered a line from Shawshank Redemption: 'Get busy living or get busy dying.'" So he took a deep breath, let go of the lifeline and swam back under the boat!

Complete report: http://tinyurl.com/Lat38-042612

UNPRECEDENTED: The U.S. Coast Guard in San Francisco has temporarily suspended all marine event permits for offshore races in the wake of the Full Crew Farallones Race tragedy on April 14th in which five sailors perished. The USCG will request US Sailing to determine if safety regulations for offshore races need to be changed. The investigation is expected to take about a month. Never before has the USCG canceled permits after an ocean tragedy. -- Latitude 38, full report: http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2012-04-26


The Publisher
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Apr 29, 2012, 12:35 PM

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What the Coast Guard imposed is a good idea even if it upsets people but this is also not a time for tough talk from either side.

Safety Stand–Downs work in the military environment because they serve to refocus personal and reestablish moral but I'm not sure how the mechanism will work in the civilian world because it's not as though there's a set manual on how to facilitate safety meetings and it's not as though there is a true commanding officer within the corinthian ranks of ocean racing. There are a bunch of ideas on how to safely run a boat and there seem to be a bunch of ideas floating about on what constitutes good seamanship. There's nothing wrong with SI's or current equipment lists or even the occasioned non–mandatory briefings held before races but put simply, we seem to have lost a way to positively take care of ourselves.

Despite the fact that documents are probably available for those that take the time to seek out minutes of meetings, much of the conversation that goes on between organizers and the USCG, for all intents and purposes, are behind closed doors. Most sailors and apparently the OYRA simply have little idea of who is talking to whom and none of the meetings being held have minutes publicly posted for sailors to read. Needless to say there is a lot of distrust among rank and file sailors here.

Then there is the Coast Guard, the well funded, properly prepared fleet with state–of–the–art equipment that is reliable and quite simply, the best technology in the world... and their training and professionalism are second to none. One rarely sees a USCG mishap but they still happen; the recent Puget Sound helicopter disaster followed by last years San Diego evening collision with a pleasure boat come to mind. Given my brief military background, I know the Coasties took time to investigate these tragedies to reinforce procedures and operational discipline to keep their ranks safe and ever–ready to complete their mission. This is a great opportunity for our ocean racing community do the same; time to take a step back to look exactly at what our processes and procedures are.

Cruisers, with so much on the line, away from resources, will often err on the side of extreme caution while racers look for what ever edge might be found and are predisposed to take calculated risks but we all need to understand risk and seamanship and how they are related.

There is no right answer for any disaster; preparation means we insure our boats are safe, our equipment sound and that we understand when and how to use it, yet preparation also means quality navigation and seamanship are practiced. The idea that each boat is self sufficient and in strong position that they may provide assistance to others is a basic, if not moral imperative if we wish to survive as a community.

There is absolutely no need for additional equipment, layers of rules, or conditions designed to save us from ourselves. We have thousands of years of refinements in seamanship, awesome navigation tools and an overwhelming knowledge base which allows us sail coastal races safely and competitively. No two situations are alike and sometimes one tactic completely opposes another on the way to survival success, not to mention success on the race course. Survival depends on different parameters for every given situation but the placement of buoys above shore breaks, a mandate of electronic fences, the call to strap every conceivable piece of safety equipment to ourselves, any knee-jerk reaction or thought that there's something fundamentally wrong simply isn't necessary. Fear monger’s tactics can kill the sprit of our endeavor and does nothing to bring back lives lost, nor does anything positive to affect successful outcomes of races held in the future.

The rules and safety standards set today are very good, let us continue to use them. Let's look objectively at what exactly happened aboard LSC and learn from the tragedy. The sharing of knowledge from well educated and experienced mariners is available and possible, including the USCG and our best and brightest sailors.

With education we overcome hazards and learn to travel through what can be one of the toughest environments known to mankind, the Gulf of the Farallones. This rite of passage is as important as any test we design for ourselves, our lives and our prowess as human beings depends on our ability to continue.


Dave Wilhite

On Apr 26, 2012
http://www.ktvu.com/...es-pending-in/nMjjm/





The Publisher
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Apr 29, 2012, 12:39 PM

Post #14 of 18 (16773 views)
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From Richard M. Johnson:
Yes, the race around the Farallon Islands was a tragedy, and we lost five ocean racing sailors from our local sailing community. However, many of us have participated in ocean yacht racing events for several years without a loss of life or equipment. They do not shut down any other sport or activity because of an accident. Did anyone ever think about shutting down water skiing, snowboarding, and snow skiing or sky diving or swimming when there was a fatality? Why is ocean yacht racing the only activity being shut down?

Consider the City of Oakland, California; where from 1999 to 2010 there were 1191 murders in that city, an average of 99 murders per year, and doing a graph on these numbers, there seems to be a steady incline to this data. They have not shut down that city, they still allow people to drive through and walk around that city. Where is the logic?

I would rather go around the Farallon Islands in my sailboat than take a walk down International Blvd. in Oakland, and I'll bet I could get a crew to do the Farallon Island event easier than get a group to stroll up and down International Boulevard in Oakland. Will this also include the "Transpac," either Single Handed or Crewed races? How about an America's Cup event going out the Gate? How about other races origination in other Coastal Communities? Is someone over reacting?

COMMENT: It is not uncommon for the US Coast Guard to require permits for organized sailing events. Since it is the USCG assets that are needed in time of accidents, they are clearly leveraging the permit process (offshore events only) to insure that race organizers are running safe events. Additionally, this does not appear to be a reaction by the USCG to a single event; there were already hints that the USCG had concerns prior to the Farallon accident. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


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May 2, 2012, 8:59 AM

Post #15 of 18 (16143 views)
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I was on a call yesterday with USCG Captain Stowe. From the USCG point of view, at least in SF, they are concerned about personal safety in races that their organization approved (through the required permit process). The USCG had to rescue two people about 200 miles offshore when the around the world Clipper Race came to SF, and then had to deal with the Farallones Race accident two weeks later. That was enough for them.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


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May 2, 2012, 9:16 AM

Post #16 of 18 (16142 views)
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Crew update

Survived
James Bradford, 41, Chicago
Bryan Chong, 38, Tiburon
Nick Vos, 20s, Sonoma

Missing
Alexis Busch, 20s, Larkspur
Alan Cahill, 36, Tiburon
Elmer Morrissey, early 30s, Ireland

Recovered/Confirmed dead
Marc Kasanin, 46, on April 14
Jordan Fromm, 25, Kentfield, on April 26





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May 4, 2012, 6:49 AM

Post #17 of 18 (15627 views)
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ACCIDENT DEBRIEF
Forty-nine boats competed on April 14th in the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race, a 58 nm contest that has run continuously since 1907. It is one of a handful of races in San Francisco that extends beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean.

The 2012 edition will be remembered for the tragedy that befell the Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase, which was pummeled by waves while rounding the island, tossing five of the eight crew members overboard, and to their death.

Scuttlebutt contacted Jeff Zarwell of RegattaPRO, a provider of Principal Race Officers for regattas, who was the PRO for the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race. Here are Jeff's comments concerning the incident...
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I will first state that what follows is my opinion, and does not necessarily represent the opinion any of the yacht clubs I manage races for.

At the conclusion of the Farallones race, I was trying to find answers to the tragedy, as well as what I could have done to prevent this. I myself have participated in at least a dozen of these events and managed about as many over the years.

The idea of setting up a waypoint perimeter did enter my mind, as well as the minds of many others. After all, if we kept boats away from the island this wouldn't have happened....right? The fact is that you and I could probably sail that same course a half dozen or more times and never have the same results as those on April 14th. On the other hand, there is the distinct possibility that I could set waypoints well off the shore of the islands (a mile, mile and a half, more?), and yet under certain circumstances, a similar result could occur.

The reality is that it is the open ocean. Mariners have perished throughout the ages attempting to conquer the sea. How do we tame a wave? Can we even?

Let's face it, like many other sports (rock climbing, cliff diving, motorsports, etc), ocean sailing has an element of danger to it. That's a big part of its appeal. If we could control the winds and calm the seas, would we even want to go out there? Would there be enough challenge?

Read on: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/12/0503/



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May 24, 2012, 4:04 PM

Post #18 of 18 (14086 views)
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PRELIMINARY FINDINGS IN FARALLONES RACE TRAGEDY
Portsmouth, RI (May 24, 2012) - A US Sailing Independent Review Panel has released a set of preliminary findings and recommendations from the research conducted on the 2012 Crewed Farallones Race that resulted in the deaths of five sailors from sailboat, Low Speed Chase, on April 14, 2012. The panel presented this information to the new San Francisco Bay Offshore Racing Council, which includes local race organizers and yacht clubs, on Tuesday, May 22. The council has developed its goals to enhance safety and communications practices for all upcoming offshore events in the Bay area.

The US Sailing preliminary recommendations are as follows:

1 - Enhanced training of sailors in seamanship and piloting, including understanding of wave development in shoaling waters and safe distance off a lee shore.
2 - Once-a-season training seminars in appropriate safety gear and mandatory skippers' meeting for offshore races.
3 - Assurance of compliance with existing Minimum Equipment Requirements, including post-race inspections.
4 - Improved race management, including accountability for boats on the course, crew members' information, compliance with Coast Guard Marine Event Permit conditions, and improved communication with sailors and Coast Guard.
5 - Consistency of protocol and requirements for all Bay Area offshore races.

Panel Chairman, Sally Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.) explains, “The US Sailing Independent Review Panel for the Low Speed Chase accident has completed a substantial amount of its fact-finding agenda, including a questionnaire to all racers in the Fully-crewed Farallones Race; personal interviews with racers, including survivors and witnesses; and plots and analysis of two dozen GPS tracks around Southeast Farallon Island.”

A full report from the panel will be released by US Sailing in June.

Complete release: http://media.ussailing.org/Latest_News/2012/Farallones_052412.htm


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