How can we minimize head injuries due to boom / jibe impacts?

some dude

Super Anarchist
4,176
169
It’s threads like this when I miss DoRag. Would love to hear his thoughts on being mandated to wear helmets all the time. It’s inevitable. It’s just what the nanny state of US Sailing does. Might take a while, but sooner or later wearing helmets will be a requirement to race. It will start with juniors.
DoRag looks sexy in a helmet. I'll say hi.
 

Foredeck Shuffle

More of a Stoic Cynic, Anarchy Sounds Exhausting
On dinghies and skiffs I come out with a lot of safety gear depending upon the conditions.
  • drysuit
  • neoprene boots/gloves, shorts or hikers
  • pfd
  • gloves
  • vhf
  • mobile in waterproof case (weather, tow company, coast guard, etc)
  • a helmet makes sense, but...
I find that on some boats I cannot wear the pfd without covering it with something, usually a spray smock on colder days, an xxl shirt on warmer days. The reason is that that the pfd rides up your back catches on things during tacks and gybes, especially the mainsheet. This results in a partial to full capsize, sometimes a very violent one. I keep meaning to sew adjustable nylon straps onto the bottom of the pfd to keep it from riding up.

A helmet is going to be interesting on a smallboat (dinghy/skiff) when things are happening quickly. It needs to conform to my neck, preferably like the way a river kayak skirt does so that it does not catch a line like the mainsheet. I'd wear helmets on dinghy/skiffs if a neck skirt was part of the helmet gear. Tough on warm days but I'd wear one if it had a skirt.

I just skimmed through the 2020 Olympic, 2022 Kiel Week, and 2022 Worlds races for the NACRA 17 (foiling), 49er, 49erFX, and Laser. Helmets present in the NACRA 17 teams, some wore them in 2020, all wore them in 2022 (class rule?). I did not see teams or individual sailors wearing them on the 49er or 49erFX. Only a few wore them on Lasers. I happened to see that a few of the 2022 foiling windboard sailors wore helmets, not many, but a few.

So that's what the pro's think of this. If there is a lot of speed they wear them, otherwise it is a rare choice. Would be interesting to hear what pro's and pro coaches have to say.
 

crashtack

Member
499
364
I had to wear a helmet through four years of college sailing, and can definitively say that they are useless in dinghies - raising one's head profile (encouraging smaller head hits that may add up to real damage) and, empirically, not reducing the number of concussions at all. Helmets make sense in reducing skull fractures (not really an issue with 3' diameter aluminum booms at the majority of dinghy speeds). I believe the foiling Nacras use them because of the danger of getting thrown into something while pitchpoling at >20knts. Lots of helmets are also single-impact which significantly raises costs.
Very similar issues with boom padding.

Sailing isn't skateboarding - if you understand your vehicle and the conditions, there should basically be no situation in which you get concussed barring freak accidents. Or just sail a snipe without a whisker pole.
 

pqbon

Member
387
155
Cambridge UK
Sailing isn't skateboarding - if you understand your vehicle and the conditions, there should basically be no situation in which you get concussed barring freak accidents. Or just sail a snipe without a whisker pole.
I take it you've never been running deep in a dinghy or small boat when getting hit by >30º shift. Very easy to get taken out by the boom.
 
I've started wearing a mouth guard and helmet at RC Laser events. When the shouting starts, and the stools start flying, it makes ice hockey look like kids stuff.

1674597070172.png
 

Foredeck Shuffle

More of a Stoic Cynic, Anarchy Sounds Exhausting
I take it you've never been running deep in a dinghy or small boat when getting hit by >30º shift. Very easy to get taken out by the boom.
It is. But if conditions are like that you shouldn't be close to ddw as an autogybe wil certainly turn into a broach earning you a hit to the head and being dumped into the water face first with loose lines in the water on top of you. A new sailor will not have that instinct so your point is taken.

I think the issue is that current helmet designs create their own issues. None seem to be designed for a sailor on a boat with a very low boom with a mainsheet hanging 2-4cm below it. A good helmet could be made though. I keep looking at new helmets at the beginning of each season as I would like to have one. But not if it will catch the mainsheet on tacks and gybes and pull my head around with however much force it is carrying in that moment. I have the experience and dexterity to have that choice, I understand that some may not and the helmet may be a better option than going without. As I get older I'm really going to want that helmet.

Honestly this is one of those instances where OD rules are worse than useless. A few soft fairleads along the boom to keep the main snug to the boom with a mylar or dacron sleeve along the boom where I'm usually sitting in medium to strong breeze to make it impossible for me to become caught in the sheet, makes sense and makes the boat no faster, it's just safety. But several classes specifically make that modification illegal which is stupid because then a helmet would be a no-brainer.
 

crashtack

Member
499
364
I take it you've never been running deep in a dinghy or small boat when getting hit by >30º shift. Very easy to get taken out by the boom.
Sounds like a reaction time issue or a case of not looking behind at incoming squalls. I sailed at variable, unpredictable dinghy venues for 15 years and was never seriously hit
 
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The Q

Super Anarchist
I used to sail with someone who always wore a hard hat.. but then his skull was held together with metal work anyway.

Had a few jobs that required hard hats, trouble was you just hit your head more often.

We had a lady break her jaw when lowering a mast during a race.

And at the nearest another club to us a gentleman was killed when lowering a mast, iirc equipment failure.
 

maxstaylock

Anarchist
725
432
This video link was posted in the DA discussion about the Finn boom incident that occurred in Brisbane. The incident is shown in the final 20-30 seconds of the video. Have a look (and listen) and see if that influences any thoughts on helmets.

Bang! that's a horrible sound. The guy had a bit on getting round the mark, maybe caused the brain fade coming into the gybe, some nearby shouting may have distracted him at the crucial moment, but damn, that's a horrible thing, that's someones biological computer inside the skull that made that doof noise. We may all be competent at ducking when we're head in the game, but information overload can creep up on us all, every accident has a chain of events leading up to it, sometimes happenstance can blunt our carefully honed instincts. Plus, in a big fleet, there's no saying that the boom or mast that gets you is attached to your own boat.

Used to be on the local inshore life boat, we had to wear these horrible Gekko helmets, couldn't see or hear a thing. Time spent in a variety of badly fitting hard construction hats didn't help. However, am now thinking I've barely enough grey matter to see me out, time to take this shit more seriously:

So, kayaking helmets are the way to go, if you don't want to pay WIP money? Any other options to look at? What brands are good? Looking for lowest profile possible.
 

Foredeck Shuffle

More of a Stoic Cynic, Anarchy Sounds Exhausting
So, kayaking helmets are the way to go, if you don't want to pay WIP money? Any other options to look at? What brands are good? Looking for lowest profile possible.
Last I looked I thought the Gath helmets were the best option that provided protection but minimized the risk of the helmet being so big it catches the boom when your bare head would not have done so, the sides taper a bit to reduce catching a mainsheet, and the straps are better thought out with clips and adjustments at the sides, not direclty under your chin like many brands. It is also one of the lightest.

But they are popular and thus can be difficult to find the size you want. And I just checked their online store and for the first time since I started looking in 2020, they appear to have a supply of everything. I'm putting in an order, nice to have one around for when I'm out in ill-advised conditions.


Edit: Haha, the Gath SFC, the one I have wanted, except for matte black (hot and sunny where I live) is out of stock until later 2023. This is normal...
 
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sailronin

Anarchist
500
21
Seattle, Wa
How can we minimize head injuries due to boom / jibe impacts?

Helmets? – or padding on the boom?

not saying either are necessary - just looking at alternatives to helmets

The recent skull fracture in the cabo race got me to thinking – in that thread there was a call for helmets for offshore jibes – this has loads of problems, including cost , actually getting people to wear helmets, keeping the helmets handy, and not lost – then fitting them for various head sizes – and probably even more reasons

But I got to thinking – why not just pad the boom – the boom is the only real head injury issue – and 2 inches of foam inside a cover could work – it could be Velcroed on for installation & removal – only needs to cover the sides of the boom, and only from the companionway back to the aft end.

Maybe 10 -15 lbs tops – and if the mainsheet runs under the boom could be made as a mainsheet tunnel

Yes if you get hit by a padded flying boom you may still get a concussion, get launched overboard, or break your neck – but that would be the same with helmets.

The best part is it would be totally passive for the crew – they don’t need to do anything extra.

A concussion is way better than a skull fracture and a TBI
Duck
 

sunseeker

Super Anarchist
3,689
623
It is. But if conditions are like that you shouldn't be close to ddw as an autogybe wil certainly turn into a broach earning you a hit to the head and being dumped into the water face first with loose lines in the water on top of you. A new sailor will not have that instinct so your point is taken.

I think the issue is that current helmet designs create their own issues. None seem to be designed for a sailor on a boat with a very low boom with a mainsheet hanging 2-4cm below it. A good helmet could be made though. I keep looking at new helmets at the beginning of each season as I would like to have one. But not if it will catch the mainsheet on tacks and gybes and pull my head around with however much force it is carrying in that moment. I have the experience and dexterity to have that choice, I understand that some may not and the helmet may be a better option than going without. As I get older I'm really going to want that helmet.

Honestly this is one of those instances where OD rules are worse than useless. A few soft fairleads along the boom to keep the main snug to the boom with a mylar or dacron sleeve along the boom where I'm usually sitting in medium to strong breeze to make it impossible for me to become caught in the sheet, makes sense and makes the boat no faster, it's just safety. But several classes specifically make that modification illegal which is stupid because then a helmet would be a no-brainer.
Not that I’m a big fan of lawsuits, but any class that doesn’t allow a way to secure the main sheet along the boom deserves to be sued. If it’s an international class, sue world sailing too. Neither can afford to defend monetarily or from a social perception.
 

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