The number of requirements for sailboat racing, especially offshore races, has been increasing steadily. The pace has quickened noticeably since 2012 and 2013 when three accidents with fatalities occurred in California: Low Speed Chase at the Southeast Farallon Island, Aegean at North Coronado Island, and Uncontrollable Urge at San Clemente Island. And since 2013 then there have been several accidents with fatalities during the Clipper round-the-world race.
Completing a Safety at Sea (SaS) course is one of race requirement that needs to be attended to at least every five years. I’ve been taking these classes since 2004, Susan since 2009, so we have witnessed some of the changes first hand. Most recently, Susan and I completed the US Sailing SaS offshore course at Berkeley Yacht Club. Approaches to being safe while at sea is a dynamic topic that has resulted in advances in equipment design, for example, life jackets, jack lines and tethers. And safety-at-sea is not a topic limited to racers! The classes I’ve taken are applicable to any type of sailing. In US Sailing’s words:
“Why take a US Sailing Safety at Sea Course?
Ever wonder what you would do if someone fell overboard from your boat?
Do you have a plan to deal with heavy weather if you can’t reach a safe harbor?
Interested in selecting the right emergency communications equipment or storm sails, but you’re not sure what to buy?
If so, a US Sailing Certified Safety at Sea Course is for you.”
If you sail, especially if you go to our lovely Channel Islands, I recommend participating in one of these classes as they are informative, led by highly experienced sailors, and include the opportunity for hands-on exposure to the latest advances in safety methods and equipment.