MAIB report published into Clipper race deaths

18 Apr 2017
Sarah Young who died during the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

Sarah Young who died during the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its final report into two fatal accidents in the 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The first fatality – that of Andrew Ashman - occurred during an uncontrolled gybe when the preventer failed. The second was that of Sarah Young who was washed overboard from the yacht.

Mr Ashman stepped over the main sheet traveller and was hit by the mainsheet on the boom sustaining a high impact neck injury that is believed to have killed him instantly.

Ms Young was on deck at night during a storm with wind speeds over 40 knots, gusting over 60 knots, following the reduction of sail area to respond to the adverse conditions, when a wave broke over the deck causing her to lose her footing ending up next to the guardrail. A second wave washed her overboard as she was not connected to the boat by her safety tether.

She was located via her AIS beacon and recovered but could not be resuscitated by the crew.

The report finds that effective supervision would have provided opportunities to prevent both accidents and makes several recommendations including that Clipper Ventures plc should review and modify its onboard manning policy and shore-based management prodedures.

Other recommendations highlighted include Clipper Ventures should complete its review of the risks associated with MOB and recovery and its development of appropriate control measures to reduce risks to as low as reasonably practicable.

A recommendation has been made to the RYA, World Sailing and British Marine, which is intended to encourage recreational and professional yachtsmen to consider carefully the type of rope used for specific tasks on board their vessels.

And a recommendation has been made to Marlow Ropes which supplied the ropes, aimed at improving the information provided to users on the loss of strength caused by splices, hitches or knots when using high modulus polyethylene rope.

In addition, the MAIB found danger zones need to be clearly marked on deck, given the uncertainty of successful man overboard search and recovery, particularly in atrocious weather, the need to clip on is paramount and skippers need to be challenged to ensure safe working practices are maintained.

“These two fatalities, resulting from two very different incidents, were the first in our long history and are tragic, especially as they were caused primarily through momentary lapses in applying basic safety training,” said Clipper Race founder and chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “Manning arrangements and shore-based management have been developed to ensure skippers are adequately supported and these will continue to be regularly reviewed.

“We have developed our current manning levels and qualifications in conjunction with the MCA, operating to MCA standards as a minimum and often well in excess. We frequently implement and develop safety procedures where there is no actual requirement; they are under constant review as a matter of course and we will continue to do so in light of the report’s recommendations.”

The eleventh edition of the Clipper Race will start from the UK in August this year and return in July 2018.

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