Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy - Page 4 - SailNet Community
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post #31 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Can you imagine what that helm/rudder did, though, when she started to surf backward at several knots?
The rudder stop was probably sheared, allowing the chain that is inside the helm to jump off of its sprocket. Once this happens the helm will freewheel.
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post #32 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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While I agree with Byian's comments about the personal responsibility to clip in and "stay on the boat"; I suspect that tethering might not have saved everyone in this situation. The forces imposed in a breaking wave (and rolling boat) can be too great to prevent failure of harness D-Rings, Tethers, and Jacklines (which would have had more than one person attached).
I'd think body parts would fail long before a D ring did, unless sailing harnesses are just that less well made than harnesses and lines in other sports.

And while I don't think a harness would keep you from dying all the time, it will keep you with the boat so other crew members don't have to search for you.
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post #33 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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Smack-

The reason injury or death in racing cars are so few today is because of the continuous development of safety equipment and engineering of the protective cages in the race cars.
X100. I hope the sailing committees around the around world will act upon this tragedy to improve the safety requirement and awareness of their racers.

1. Tethering and properly fitted life vest and harness
2. Crouch strap
3. PBL, automatic strobes
4. Automatic sea dye marker

With all due respect, this tragedy would not have happened.


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post #34 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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I'd think body parts would fail long before a D ring did, unless sailing harnesses are just that less well made than harnesses and lines in other sports.

And while I don't think a harness would keep you from dying all the time, it will keep you with the boat so other crew members don't have to search for you.
You might be surprised to hear that there are many cases where the D-Rings have sheared on sailing life vests. There was an incident just north of Pt Reyes a few years ago where a father/son were washed out of the cockpit; the son was wearing a tethered lifevest. The D-Rings on the vest failed. The father was rescued but the son was lost to the sea.

Tethers and harnesses keep you aboard in the event that you slip/fall on the deck. No guarantees if you fall over the side, and certainly none if you take a breaking wave. My comment on clipping in was also with respect to jacklines; which would almost certainly let go if 3 crew were clipped onto one nylon webbing jackline.

Read this article; there is a video of harness failure testing on the web somewhere (several models failed) but I cant find it.
Safety Harnesses and Tethers

Last edited by KeelHaulin; 04-25-2012 at 04:24 PM.
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post #35 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

Wow, that sucks. Skydiving rigs are made from type 13 webbing harness with a tensile strength 7000lbs. Heard lots of stories of openings hard enough to tear aortas and break femurs, but in 10 years I've never heard of a harness failure with that.

The webbing harness costs less than $3 a yard. :/
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post #36 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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"Agreed. Staying far off a lee shore should be plain common sense,"
But that is not racing. Racing routinely means rock-hopping. Means figuring how far you can push the most favorable tack. Means putting up ever so slightly less than too much canvas, and as the saying goes "if you didn't break anything, it was all too heavy and you weren't really racing."

As your insurers might say, racing is inherently dangerous and that's why many of htem won't cover a boat racing.
Sailboat racing is a slow speed game - it doesn't have to be any more inherently dangerous than any form of going to sea is. Also, after you crash your boat, you don't get to walk back to the pits.

Your comments sound like an echo of Grand Prix racing prior to Jackie Stewart - any thought of driver safety was regarded as unmanly. Pure nonsense. Risking blown sails, wild broaches, even dismasting is not the same as risking going on the rocks in big surf - as we have just seen.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.

Last edited by SloopJonB; 04-25-2012 at 06:25 PM.
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post #37 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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Originally Posted by LauderBoy View Post
Wow, that sucks. Skydiving rigs are made from type 13 webbing harness with a tensile strength 7000lbs. Heard lots of stories of openings hard enough to tear aortas and break femurs, but in 10 years I've never heard of a harness failure with that.

The webbing harness costs less than $3 a yard. :/
I have a feeling that bio-mechanics were considered in the design of these safety harnesses. At some point the strength of the harness will exceed the strength of your back and upper body; so if it does not give way one would be severely injured (paralyzed) or even killed by the amount of force on the user. That's a design limitation that can't be eliminated so the maximum design loads that the vest is designed to withstand are lower than what would certainly result in death of the user.
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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Sailboat racing is a slow speed game - it doesn't have to be any more inherently dangerous than any form of going to sea is. Also, after you crash you boat, you don't get to walk back to the pits.

Your comments sound like an echo of Grand Prix racing prior to Jackie Stewart - any thought of driver safety was regarded as unmanly. Pure nonsense. Risking blown sails, wild broaches, even dismasting is not the same as risking going on the rocks in big surf - as we have just seen.
It is more dangerous. It is a form of racing. People push the limits of their equipment and endurance. Everyone who is a competitive sailor knows that there is increased risk of injury involved. But the question is; what is avoidable? Does it make sense to require jackets/harnesses/tethers/jacklines; yet not have a layline boundary (or depth contour boundary) at the SE Farallone north shore? This accident -might- be understandable if the boat were further offshore and suffered some sort of failure like the rudder post shearing; but to be struck by a 'large set' breaking wave makes this tragedy senseless.

If accidents like this continue to happen be prepared for people outside of the sailing community to start looking for ways to restrict the freedom of sailors to race their boats (like the USCG not issuing event permits). I don't think anyone wants that so the best thing to do is to make some changes within the racing sailing organizations to ensure that senseless tragedies like this are avoided as much as possible in the future.

Between late May and early September; the SF Bay is a daily "Small Craft Advisory" area. Do people here say well it's an SCA so we should stay in. NO; everyone who likes heavy air goes sailing/windsurfing/kiteboarding because the wind is up! According to the USCG we are all taking unnecessary risk. What would happen if the USCG said that racing events will be canceled if they issue a SCA?
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Last edited by KeelHaulin; 04-25-2012 at 05:31 PM.
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post #39 of 317 Old 04-25-2012
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

Another thing to consider about these load ratings is that such numbers are for brand new, "perfect", pieces of equipment. As soon as such a bit of gear starts getting used it becomes worn, damaged, et cetera (however minutely; face it, a tether isn't going to get stronger with use). This is a large part of the reasoning behind such seemingly large safety factors. In other words, we want the gear to work when it's needed; not just right out of the box, but also maybe a year or two down the road. As such, a harness or tether may be rated (when new) at two or three ( or more) times the necessary strength so that it will be strong enough when it actually gets "tested" in the field. In principal, it may not make sense to have a harness that is able to resist faces likely to kill the wearer. But, in practice, such an increased safety margin does in fact serve a purpose.

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
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Re: Bryan Chong's first hand recount of the Low Speed Chase tragedy

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Originally Posted by KeelHaulin View Post
Smack-

I'm not trolling for an argument. Just wanted to add a little more perspective. I don't disagree that in racing accidents can happen resulting in injury or even death; but in the case of comparing this to a NASCAR event or other racing sport, can you recall a recent event where 5 people in race cars were killed because someone cut a corner too tight or took too big of a risk?
Apples and oranges comparison, seems to me...

Had there been 7 other passengers riding along with Dan Wheldon in his Indy Car last fall at Las Vegas, pretty good odds most of them would be dead, as well...

Likewise, had LOW SPEED CHASE been sailed singlehanded, at the most one sailor might have been lost...

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I don't see a problem with using a technology like GPS to improve racecourse safety in events which require sailors to take ever increasing risk to shave time off of their ET to win.
Undoubtedly, that will be the case in future Farallons races... Still, it will offer no guarantees or assurance of safety. Should the boats be required, for example, to stand a certain distance off the Marin Headlands, or the South Tower, as well? Disqualified for passing over the Potato Patch? Prohibited from using a spinnaker on the ride back if winds are recorded above a certain strength?

Ultimately, these decisions and judgments best be left with the sailors, themselves... Might be a good time to re-read Chong's eloquent articulation of what draws these sailors to such a challenge, to begin with...
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