Another bad accident aboard a large sailing yacht has once again brought into focus the question of safety aboard

The first mate aboard the superyacht Salperton IV Mark Goodwin had six ribs broken and later had his spleen removed when he was thrown against the yacht’s boom vang when a jib sheet parted during a regatta in Sardinia last week.

The 45m Salperton IV, about a year old and owned by Barry Houghton, was taking part in the first race of the Loro Piana regatta in Sardinia when the accident happened in the notorious ‘bomb alley’, a narrow stretch of water off Porto Cervo which provides exciting sailing conditions through a rock strewn channel.

Skipper Andy Green told Yachting World that Salperton was recording 30 to 34 knots of true wind speed at the masthead and that they were beating towards the finish in close company with Charles Dunstone’s Hamilton 11. They had full main and blade jib up when they had to duck Hamilton as she came towards them on starboard. “Normally bomb alley feels quite wide but in this 45m yacht is suddenly feels smaller,” said Andy Green who said they cleared Hamilton’s stern by about 10m. “We were under complete control,” he said but as they hardened up to resume their course the jib sheet parted.

Mark Goodwin was on the weather side of the yacht when the weather sheet flogged as the half-trimmed blade jib flogged violently. Catching Goodwin round the waist the sheet hurled him against the boom vang. He broke six ribs and damaged his spleen. “I can not praise the crew enough for dealing with the situation in an exemplary manner,” said Andy Green who immediately dropped the sails and started motoring to Porto Cervo half an hour away.

On board Salperton was Stig Westergaard the chief medical officer for the Volvo Ocean Race who was able to administer morphine and oxygen which the yacht carried in its medical kit. According to Green the foredeck crew tended to Goodwin first and everyone on board remained calm and in control. Goodwin was transferred to one of Sardinia’s leading hospitals where he later had his spleen removed. He is still recovering in hospital.

Andy Green said that the jib sheet aboard Salperton had not been replaced since the yacht was launched last year but that it was not obviously damaged. “It is too early to know exactly why it parted.”

Although he said he was not in favour of mandatory rules and regulations governing superyachting, he said that thorough briefings were essential and that when the wind approached 25 knots crew and guests should be told where to stand, have proper footwear and life jackets should be worn.

He said that with the increasing competitiveness of large sailing yachts everyone should be aware of the possible dangers and yachts must have someone in the crew who is capable of administering an injection and carrying out first aid to anyone traumatised in a accident like this.

Read more about this accident and the concerns over superyacht safety in the August issue of Yachting World.