Clipper Ventures Cites Inaccuracies in Report

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The following is an excerpt from the statement that Clipper Ventures released in response to UKs Marine Accident Investigation Branchs report on the death of sailor Simon Speirs. The full response can be found online at: https://bit.ly/36cpUb3

The MAIB report issued on 20 June 2019 was written in response to the sad death of crew member, Simon Speirs, aboard the Clipper Race Yacht CV30 on 18th November 2017 following a freak failure of a tether safety clip.

The MAIB report makes three recommendations to Clipper Ventures, none of which concern the safety clip.

With regards to report section 2019/113, Clipper Ventures has been asked to take account of any safety management guidance and direction provided by the MCA. The Maritime Coastguard Agency has been unable to find the resources so far to provide Clipper Ventures with guidance and direction and we have been waiting for them to contact us to look into maritime safety issues for 18 months. However, in view of this delay, we have had our systems assessed by two outside auditors.

Regarding the two recommendations that form report section 2019/114, to review and amend Clipper 70 yacht maintenance and repair processes to minimize additional workload on crew during the Race, what the report is unable to recognize is that damage will occur on boats sailing in the more demanding waters of the world and crews have to be able to make repairs when at sea. Clipper Race crews are taught a number of additional skills, like sail repairs, engine maintenance, etc. so they can deal with such incidents immediately, while at sea. To support this, and ensure that the boats are ready for their next leg, Clipper Ventures sends a strong, experienced maintenance team to every stopover to attend to more complicated repairs, or brings in local experts.

The ingress of water into the lazarette, mentioned in the report, caused by a leaking rudder gaiter, was fixed in Punta del Este at the end of Leg 1. The leaks in the forepeak from the bobstay chainplate were attended to by the Maintenance Team in Punta del Este at the end of Leg 1, seven weeks before the accident.

It is also important to highlight that the report contains a further number of factual inaccuracies.

The report states that at the time of publication (20th June 2019) a number of previous recommendations had not been implemented. This is inaccurate as the following actions have been implemented:

An Additional Qualified Person was added to all boats in Fremantle during the 2017-18 edition and have been recruited for the forthcoming race. The MAIB report actually acknowledges this elsewhere in its content, so we do not understand why their report states we have not responded to this recommendation.

A plotter (an electronic navigation aid) at the helm position is being fitted.

A new detailed passage plan form has been introduced for the next race

With regards to report section 2.7.2 serious damage has always been reported to the IMS surveyors as they have to approve repairs. This is not made clear in this report

This is not an exhaustive list of the actions taken. Clipper Ventures continues to investigate any new ideas that might improve safety aboard its boats from its tough training regime to sailing in rough waters.

Clipper Ventures investigation into safety tethers, (please note – which had the MAIB in attendance onboard during said investigation), and subsequent introduction of a double tether system that exceeds the ISO standard, is acknowledged in this report.

Accidents and incidents are always investigated by a team of experienced circumnavigators within the company.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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