Features

September 2011 Issue

PS's Safety Tether Test Results Reignite Concerns

Tether-to-harness connection presents an engineering challenge.

The safety tether is the sailor’s leash—a short stretch of webbing or rope that keeps a sailor from going overboard. Its purpose is complicated by the fact that it must be capable of two opposing functions: It must offer a secure means of attachment to the boat, and, when the need arises, provide a quick means of release. The recent Chicago-Mackinac Race tragedy and similar accidents, recent product recalls, and findings in Practical Sailor’s latest round of tether testing also bolster the argument that sailors—and manufacturers—need to pay more attention to the safety tethers on the market today. For this test, we evaluated three different West Marine tethers and found that despite improved engineering, they still fall short of perfection.

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