Safety First

on . Posted in 2015 Race Updates

Stephen and Anthea Weekes carrying out Safety Checks - photo RORC/James MitchellThe RORC Race Team includes Safety Advisors, Stephen Weekes, assisted by wife Anthea, who are in Lanzarote to check through the ISAF Safety Regulations lists completed by each boat.

During the checks, they have come across some interesting safety items that are over and above what is required by the ISAF regulations:

“Most of the boats have been across the Atlantic before or have certainly done some long distance racing, so they are all very well sorted,” explains Stephen. “We just check to make sure that everyone understands what some of the ISAF Safety requirements mean and to try to ascertain whether all the crew members on each boat know exactly how everything works. This is especially so on the larger boats with bigger crews.”

“Stowage of safety items is quite critical for the 3,000 mile RORC Transatlantic Race and we’ve found that several crews know the equipment is on the boat but can’t quickly put their hand to it, so we stress the point that they need to find out!

“Something we are seeing more of when we are looking round the boats is that most of them now have Personal AIS MOB Beacons. They have become a major lifesaving advantage and we see crews have them either fitted to their lifejacket so that they go off in the water, or are carrying them in their oilskin pockets so that they can activate them themselves. Once activated the MOB appears on the screen of the chart plotter as and SAR emblem and gives a course and bearing back to the casualty in the water, and not only on their boat, but all those within AIS range. The point was made that they should be aware of what the symbol would look like on their navigation systems. It needs testing so they understand what they are looking for when activated.

“Other safety items of interest that we’ve come across and which we haven’t seen before is glow sticks. These are activated by snapping and then will glow for a significant amount of time. On the Southern Wind 94, Windfall they’ve got lots around the helmsman and therefore if somebody goes overboard at night, you can keep snapping them and dropping them into the water to give you a line to sail back along to the MOB. Several other boats have glow sticks as part of their safety kit, but not as well positioned, and as the skipper of Windfall told us, you can keep throwing them and then you’ve got a chain lit up through the water to guide you back. It’s a simple, interesting safety aspect that is not very expensive.

“We’ve also seen the reflective tape used on steps and other items around the cockpit which works well as you do not want a lot of light when sailing at night, but do want to keep people safe, especially in the larger boats with more open space.”

Photo: Stephen and Anthea Weekes - RORC/James Mitchell