We got some heartbreaking news just before this issue was on its way to the printer: On May 9, British Olympic sailing medalist Andrew Simpson died when Swedens Americas Cup boat, Artemis, pitchpoled and broke apart during a windy sail on San Francisco Bay. Simpson, who joined the team as a strategist in February, was apparently pinned under the wreckage of the 72-foot catamaran. The tragedy casts a pall over the Americas Cup series set for this summer.
Ron Trossbach, the lead investigator for US Sailing in the Rambler 100 incident, recommended the following changes to US Sailing’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) and US Sailing Prescriptions. He also recommended that these be forwarded to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to be included the ISAF Special Regulations Governing Offshore Racing for Monohulls. The items in parentheses reflect the OSR section that would be amended.
Practical Sailor recently tested the first line of foul-weather gear released by Massachusetts-based Bluestorm. The three mens bibs-and-jacket sets are named appropriately for the general areas they are designed for use in: the lightweight Latitude 33, medium-weight Latitude 48, and heavy-duty Latitude 61. The sailing jackets and bibs were tested for wind- and water-resistance, fit and comfort, design, construction quality, warmth, design and fit of hood, design and construction of zippers, and reflectivity. Small, innovative details that Bluestorm incorporated into its foulies include the triple-closure system for jacket storm flaps and recessed Velcro fasteners. All sets have excellent hood design, and testers found the jackets to be supple, highly breathable, and comfortable, if a bit pricey.
Two years ago, I purchased a Water Witch bilge pump switch. When it developed a glitch, I called Kathleen at Water Witch Inc.s San Diego office (www.waterwitchinc.com). She asked me a couple of questions, then assured me the replacement part would be shipped the following day. It was, followed by an email saying it had shipped. It arrived 10 days later (international), complete with a personal note. Does it better than this? I think not.
In our final review of three 2011 sailboat tragedies investigated by US Sailing, we offer a clear look at how even the best-equipped, most highly trained sailors can run into trouble at sea. Rambler 100-touted as the fastest monohull super-maxi on the planet and representing millions of dollars in research and design-lost its canting keel and capsized while competing in the August 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race. Sixteen crew struggled to stay on the overturned hull, while another five floated adrift in the Celtic Sea, trying to fight off hypothermia. Practical Sailor looks closely at US Sailings report, directed by retired U.S. Navy Captain Ron Trossbach, the Rambler 100 crews post-accident recommendations, and the safety lessons we can all learn from the accident.
West Marine has released a new, improved version of the safety tethers it voluntarily recalled last summer. As we reported in the August 2010 issue, West Marine recalled its model 9553512 (single) and 9553504 (double) safety tethers—which featured Kong hooks on the boat end and snap shackles on the user end—over concerns about the durability of the split ring connecting the snap shackle’s release pin and the lanyard.
Fourteen-year-old Olivia Constants was participating in the Severn Sailing Associations junior race training program on Chesapeake Bay in late June when she and her partners Club 420 capsized sharply to leeward and inverted. While her partner emerged from the inverted hull, Constants did not. By the time the support boat reached her and staff pulled her out of the water, she was unconscious. Attempts to revive her failed.
About this time of year, sailors creeping southward are either accelerating their migration or looking for inexpensive ways to warm the cabin. You don't have to install an expensive, built-in heating system just to get you south of the Mason-Dixon line, but when opting for one of the less-expensive options, you do have to use commonsense.