The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch has released its findings into two fatal accidents aboard the Clipper Race yacht CV21, IchorCoal, during the 2015/2016 Clipper Round the World Race

Andrew Ashman, 49, died during the first leg of the race after being knocked unconscious during two uncontrolled gybes 122nm west of Porto, Portugal on 4 September 2015. Sarah Young, 40, was washed overboard while mid-Pacific Ocean during the leg between Qingdao in China to Seattle on 1 April 2016.

In a 73-page report, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has now revealed its full findings into these deaths, which both occurred aboard the yacht IchorCoal.

The one common link that resulted from the thorough investigation into both fatalities is that the MAIB found a ‘lack of effective supervision featured in both accidents’. It has recommended to the Clipper organisers that future Clipper race yachts should be manned with a second employee or ‘seafarer’ with appropriate competence to support the current skippers who are the sole Clipper employees aboard.

Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents Capt. Steve Clinch said:

“While acknowledging that Clipper Ventures plc has already done much to address the safety issues identified during the MAIB’s investigations, I am nonetheless recommending that the company does even more to review and modify its yacht manning policy and shore based management procedures so that Clipper yacht skippers are effectively supported and, where appropriate, challenged to ensure safe working practices are always adhered to on board.”

The report also details many interesting areas including the recommendation for regular MOB drills, reducing the distance between guardrails (or using mesh between them), and the loss of strength caused to high modulus rope when knots or splices are used.

MAIB Clipper investigation

The publication of the MAIB report has been welcomed by Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who said:

“The MAIB has an important role in ensuring that the valuable learnings from accidents are shared with the industry to help improve safety. These two fatalities, resulting from two very different incidents, were the first in our long history and are tragic, especially as they were caused primarily through momentary lapses in applying basic safety training.

The MAIB’s conclusions and recommendations (for full report click here) are summarised on our final page – which you can click straight to below. We recommend reading at least this distillation of the report first – the extracts of narrative help paint a picture of the thorough investigation and set out the lessons learnt.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Page 2
  3. 3. The damage of consecutive accidental gybes
  4. 4. How did it happen?
  5. 5. What has been learnt from the incident?
  6. 6. The death of Sarah Young
  7. 7. Man overboard recovery
  8. 8. What happened after the accident
  9. 9. How did the accident happen?
  10. 10. MAIB's overall recommendations
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