The capsize of WingNuts is not the first fatal accident that has put the spotlight on the harness-to-tether connection. Since 1986, several widely publicized fatal sailing accidents have prompted inquiries into the harnesses and safety tethers used by sailors.
• Pride of Baltimore, 1986: Second mate Joseph McGeady cuts several young crewmembers free when the tall ship sinks in a “white squall,” killing four. In the aftermath, crews of traditional sailing vessels are advised to wear tethers with clips at both ends.
• White Lightning, 1999: Crew member Mark Van Selst tries in vain to bring aboard skipper Harvey Schlasky who drowns while being dragged by his tether in the Doublehanded Farallones Race.
• Business Post of Naiad, 1998: Phillip Skeggs dies entangled in lines and at the end of his tether when the IMS racing boat capsized in the lethal 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race in the Tasman Sea. Fellow racer Robert Mathews tries to release his tether clip, but finds it very difficult as he, too, was at the end of his tether.
• Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2009: Sailors Andrew Short and Sally Gordon die when their boat runs aground on Flinders Islet during the Flinders Islet Yacht Race in Australia. Post-race inquiry into the grounding suggested that Gordon, who was somehow yanked from her harness, may have survived if she had been able to release her tether from the boat.