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
What happened after the accident
Sarah Young was taken below for resuscitation. CPR was carried out and the shore medical care team Praxes was advised, which is connected to a duty doctor. The crew told the doctor there were no life signs and, at 0114, Sarah Young was declared deceased.
At 0126, the skipper instructed the helmsman to alter on to a westerly course towards Japan, approximately 1,000 miles away and a third reef was taken in as, by this time, the wind was gusting up to 90 knots.
Following consultation between the MCA and Praxes, the crew were instructed to bury the body of Sarah Young at sea when conditions allowed, as there was no means to store a body and so at 0543 the yacht resumed an easterly course for Seattle.
Sarah was found to have two lumps on the back of her head, one of which had bled, ‘indicating that she had impacted her head during the accident.’
She was buried at sea at 1200 on 3 April following a short ceremony.
Clipper Ventures safety procedures
It was stated in the Clipper Race standard operating procedures that ‘safety tethers shall always be worn with the lifejacket and shall be attached to jackstays or appropriate strong points on deck at the appropriate times such as (this list is not considered exhaustive):
At all times when, in the skipper’s opinion, the conditions warrant it.
Always at night.
Always in poor visibility.
If the crew member wishes to use it.
When operating on the foredeck.
Remember clip on early. Skippers will set an example in the wearing of lifejackets and in the use of safety tethers.’
The report notes that crew clipped on ‘to varying degrees in accordance with the above instructions, others clipped on only when they deemed necessary because, in doing so, they considered their movement was hampered significantly. Crew members sometimes reminded each other to clip on,’ and continues: ‘While the skipper always wore a lifejacket when on deck, he did not always clip on when other crew considered it appropriate to do so.’
AIS beacons were not supplied by Clipper, but most of the crews carried personal AIS beacons fitted to their lifejackets. Crews often bought them from a joint fund or rented for a leg.
Each Clipper yacht had a dan buoy with an AIS beacon taped. This needed to be activated prior to the buoy being thrown and a crewmember needed to remove the base pin, twist the bottom of the unit and push the base upwards.
The report states: ‘No signals from the AIS beacon attached to the dan buoy were received on board CV21 [IchorCoal] following its deployment.’
In the previous race in 2013/4, crewmember Andrew Taylor went overboard on this leg of the Pacific during heavy weather and was recovered after an hour and 45 minutes in the water.
The report further states that, since 2012, ‘there have been four tethered and one untethered reported MOB incidents occurring on Clipper yachts during racing and training. There was also a further tethered MOB incident that occurred on CV21 during the 2015-2016 Race that was not reported to the MAIB.’