Jump to content

Dave E

Member Since 26 Sep 2005
Offline Last Active Sep 17 2014 07:46 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Wide-open discussion of the loss of Low Speed Chase

19 April 2012 - 05:06 PM

Most fatalities in past Farallones races have had nothing to do with hitting the rock.  Usually the cause has been drowning after going overboard--whether tethered or not (although personally I believe that you are far safer staying with the boat).

As anyone who has sailed to the Farallones in 30+ knots and big seas in a small boat knows, you will not be able to spend much time staring at a GPS or chart plotter.  I recall in the '99 race getting hit by waves that filled the cockpit of John Simpson's SC27 repeatedly.  We had a bad knockdown going upwind and I was lucky to find my GPS and radio floating between the cockpit seats.  I ended up on my back under the tiller trying to get the boat back under control.  John was hanging from a lifeline.  And this from a minor steering error on my part (understandable since we were beating against 18 foot seas for 5 hours).  By the end of the race both of us were soaked to the skin and our speech was slurred from hypothermia.  It was one of those "life experiences" for both of us.  That's what it's like out there.

Beyond ensuring that competitors understand the conditions they may face, I don't see any changes to SIs that would be particularly helpful.  Perhaps improving the on-board communications (such as the suggestion to use DSC radios) could improve the response times of emergency responders.  No laws, virtual marks or sailing instructions will make the Pacific Ocean a safer place.  The crew of LSC was very experienced and the tragedy still occurred.  And there will be others in the future.

This is just a terrible tragedy and there really isn't anything we can do to prevent these kind of things from happening.  Offshore racing can be a dangerous sport.


In Topic: Wide-open discussion of the loss of Low Speed Chase

18 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

I wonder if there is a researcher on the Farallones who is right now thinking as he looks at the broken yacht on his doorstep, " I knew this was going to happen, someday." What have been their observation of seas in the conditions encountered by the racers Saturday? Are there areas particularly prone to dramatic wave trains, which, statistically, were bound to coincide with the passage of an aggressively sailed yacht? Most sailors with exceptional knowledge of the SF Bay might only have a couple of hours of time spent in close proximity to the Farallones.

I also think that the Race Committee will be seriously considering changing the course to require yachts to round marks offset from the rock pile to increase safety. With or without RC vessels on station to enforce the "roundings", competing yachts could reasonably, in this day and age, be expected to provide navigational evidence (most easily digital records) to prove compliance with such rules. Given a litigious society, and insurance realities, this response has at least a fair probability of happening.

How would SA folks feel if the race were changed as a result of this disaster?

You must be kidding, right?

In Topic: Aground at the Farallones

17 April 2012 - 06:41 AM

I was also in that '99 DHF race with John Simpson (casc27--Is that you John?). 18 foot seas and 38 knot winds. My thought at the time was if you go overboard, you're toast. The odds of a sailboat being able to get to you at all are slim indeed. That the crew of the turtled F31 got rescued was simply a miracle. Harvey Schlasky had the same safety equipment we had, although I think the question of whether his PFD inflated correctly or not was never really answered. In any case, you can't get back aboard a boat when you are being dragged behind it at 6 knots.

Low Speed Chase was crewed by experienced people. Yes, lots of boats cut the rock WAY too close, but the accident that killed Harvey Schlasky was only about 3-4 miles outside the Gate. We all tend to look for reasons when something like this happens, but it could happen to any of us in those conditions even with all the safety gear in the world. Anyone who thinks differently has never been in a Farallones race. This was just a terrible, terrible accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the deceased at this time. We can defend the Farallones races against the inevitable backlash another day.

Fair winds, mates.

In Topic: cool or not cool?

01 February 2012 - 07:38 PM

Any SC50 is cool.  I sailed on this boat a few times when Randy Parker owned her.  It was rigged backwards from all the other 50s, so I imagine the new rig is an improvement.