They don't get paid much at all? Are you kidding me? Top team top sailors are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do as you say, what they love and have fun at. Closer to the back of the boat the numbers are even higher. This is the pinnacle of the sport, they are paid accordingly. These guys are not showing up for a T-shirt and a beer after racing.
I don't think these sailors want to be in an extreme sport. Most of them don't get paid much at all. They want to go sailing and have fun and go home safely. They're not F1 drivers getting paid millions of dollars and going at death defying speeds. And with the current AC boats, it's probably safer to drive a racing car than to go sailing. That's just crazy!
As for wanting to be in an extreme sport, well, any single one of them can say NO, and leave the team. Last I checked every time a new boat hits the water most of what you hear about is the huge shit eating grins of the crew at the "amazing performance" of the boats. Sure the performance is scary, but the big boys get paid the big bucks to tame the big beasts and to chase the big prize. That is the point of the exercise.
What's the first rule of sailing? It's every sailors and skippers responsibility to determine if they should even be on the water at all in the first place or if they should continue to race / sail etc. We all make that choice every time we go on the water, we all (Should be anyhow) assessing the risks and deciding if its what we should do on any given day. Part of that assessment is understanding what happens or can happen when it goes pear shaped. what supports are in place, what is the worst that can happen etc. There are of course no guarantees that things will unfold without ill consequence even with fantastic safety mechanisms in place, such is life.
Flados is correct in my opinion that it is insulting to think that somehow the small boat sailors were magically unaware of the TRUE risk of sailing boats like this. Bullshit. they are pros who are able to understand what is going on complete with a reasonable assesment of risk.
To be sure it is tragic that a life was lost, it's an outcome nobody wants to see, least of all Mr Simpsons wife and child, but again it is all part of the risk assessment that every sailor must make, every day they sail. Every time I sail my wife reminds me not to get killed, it is an explicit ackowledgement on her part that death by boat is a distinct possibility, if somewhat remote, but a possibility nevertheless. I remind her of the same thing when she goes off to sail.
We as sailors have a responsibility to look out for our bretheren on the water, I take that responsibility seriously and I rely on others to do the same. I would rather have people on the water around me who have a realistic understanding of the risks and not an, "I told you so attiitude"
I have to both agree with you, yet disagree at the same time! Yes, the sailors are informed, they don't have to be there and they are making informed choices. However, their choices are based on what they see as possibilities are of being killed/injured. That whole equation has just changed and the sailors will now reassess their position based on this information. It wouldn't surprise me if we see some sailors leave AC teams.
I have participated in an extreme sport, skiing, where the risks were well known. I have done a number of "first descents" and have skied things on which people have been killed, but although II knew that people died on those mountains (and others), I was able to rationalise what I did because nobody I personally knew was killed. All changed when in the space of 18 months, 3 friends, including one whom I rated as the best extreme skier ever and who was incredibly safety conscious, were killed. Although I still skied stuff that most people would consider dangerous and extreme, I stopped skiing stuff that I considered to be "if you fall you die".
The idea that in any sport, the participants know the risks and make choices, therefore it's Ok, is simply wrong. F1 got to understand that 20 years ago, which is why what used to be a very dangerous sport (1 in 20 participants died every year at one point) is now safe.
I am not arguing for the cancelling of the AC, or for sailors top leave teams. All I am trying to do is to frame the arguments in the correct light. There is a big difference in the discussion between "these boats are dangerous and people might die and/or get hurt" to one that says "people get killed sailing these boats".
Stop equivocating Simon, what exactly are you saying?
Yes people demonstrably get killed sailing these boats, people demonstrably get killed sailing all manner of boats around the year around the globe. My point was exceptionally simple EVERY TIME you go on the water you PERSONALLY take responsibility for your own life, full stop. If some one does something egrigiously wrong to cause injury (Drunk driving sheriff mows down innocent sailors in high powered motor boat comes to mind), then sure it's a slightly different matter, but this was very straight forward regardless of how tragic, sailor goes into rough water to sail high power high performance one off prototype boat in brisk conditions, things appear to have come unglued either figuratively or literally, bad outcome ensues.
I have sailed high powered boats in rough conditions too and nearly killed myself, complete with literally waking up 4 feet below the water after having suffered a concussion, I was lucky enough to have the time to sort my shit out, get untangled from a hell of a mess and swim my ass to the surface. The risk is pretty fucking real to me, there but for the grace of God I actually woke up and sorted my shit out and did not pass off my mortal coil at the ripe old age of 17. Yes on some level many might argue it is insane that I would continue without calling for helmets and PFD's and support boats and all manner of nanny state incursions into our fair sport. Rather, I simply looked at it and said after returning from the hospital, "fuck, that was close, beware of that in the future" Indeed that one incident informed many decisions on many subsequent sailing days in my life and no doubt saved my bacon later on down the line.
I have participated in an extreme sport too, riding a bicycle on my city's streets, I have stood over the grave of one of my best friends after he was mowed down by a drunk driver while on his bike on a City street. I personally chose to stop riding on City streets on my bike because I am surrounded by asshats, as you chose to stop skiing in high risk environments. My personal risk assesment of AC 72's is, that I would trust my own team, and the racers I race against and the available support teams, to go sailing on the boat in SF bay, part of that is knowing what my skill set is, on any given day, perhaps I might have to give it a pass in light of having children, in light of what I thought about the quality of my team mates, the build of the boat, and so on. I have stepped away from things before, I will do it again, I embrace risk, but I manage it too, it's the fundamental expectation of any sailor.
So I maintain you equivocate by saying, "What they see as possibilities". If you think for a minute they don't or haven't previously seen the possibility of being killed or seriously injured while doing that job, you are fucking delusional. You are suggesting they are so arrogant, or so stupid, or so blinded by money, that they are unable to see that they could get killed on that patch of water in what are arguably the most high performance course racing boats of all time? Yes to be sure someone getting killed drives home the point, but form day one it was a possibility. As much as it is in a Volvo Ocean race or a Fastnet or Vendee Globe.
We are men, we go down to the sea, even if only to have a gentlemenly contest of skill, but we do it with the full knowledge of all those before us that we take our lives into our hands when we do, as we take into our hands the lives of our brothers and trust our lives into their hands. This is what separates us from playing fucking bridge at a table, this is the essence of the commeraderie that sailors enjoy over other sports, our lives are in each others hands and this is serious shit and the stakes are as real as they get. It's special because it really is fucking dangerous, it's not a game, it's life in technicolor and 3D. when you forget that that, then you are in danger.
To be clear I am not suggesting that sailors should be expected to take stupid risks, nor am I suggesting that changes should not be made to make things safer for the sailor if it is clear what can be done to do so, but lets be clear, when a boat shits the bed in the middle of the bay and a yard sale ensues, it's really difficult to suggest or speculate with any manner of precision what the possible outcomes are. In F1 they could figure out that crash boxes that dissipated kinetic energy saved lives and so they changed the rules to ensure you could dissipate the energy of a crash to save the life of a driver. How do you determine how a boat might fold up after a cascading failure and in turn where exactly the crew might be during or after said event?
Some here cry about the inevitablity of a pitch pole, but by current accounts this accident was the result of a structural failure of the front beam which ended in a boat taco. Lowering the rig would not have changed for one second the performance imperative of saving weight and cutting it close on the main beam specifications. So OK, you can allow for some more carbon on main structural elements, but you all know you will end up chasing it all over the boat as teams try to eek out a performance gain here or there.
I would submit that its a fair bit easier to design a safe F1 than it is to design any boat as "safe", if only because in F1 you have one driver doing a very narrow set of activities in a fully enclosed cockpit, with a very predictable set of outcomes in crashes, repeated many many times. Do you want all the crew strapped into pods on either side of the boat? Well OK, great, you can build crash cages around them and make it safer in some regards, but more dangerous in others.
Bridge is looking better and better.
It is so early in all this that nobody even knows how these boats are most likely to kill people.
Whoever quit Oracle months ago due to safety concerns is starting to look pretty smart.