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
How did the accident happen?
The MAIB report states that ‘this accident was a consequence of Sarah Young not clipping on.’
The training had emphasised the importance of this. So why did she not?
The report suggests several possible reasons: she was fatigued, which adversely affected her mental performance; she forgot; she was distracted while going to help another crew member; or she decided that it was unnecessary to clip on at that time.
But whatever the reason, the MAIB found that ‘lack of effective supervision featured in both accidents’, that of Sarah Young and Andrew Ashman. The practice, they state, requires ‘a robust culture built on strong leadership, discipline and effective oversight.’
The report also notes that falling overboard might have been prevented if the distance between the intermediate guardrail and the deck had been smaller or fitted with lacing or mesh.
It was also noted that when Sarah Young was recovered she was not wearing her lifejacket sprayhood. This feature is designed to prevent drowning, as a body in the water will naturally turn to face the waves.
She had also chosen not to wear her drysuit on this occasion.
The report also notes that, while man overboard drills were briefed regularly, ‘no practical drills were completed with the race leg crew together’ and suggests some of the delay, despite the ‘atrocious wind and sea conditions’…’could have been avoided had the crew been more practised in the procedure.’
Since the fatality, Clipper Ventures has laced up the guardrails, carried out MOB drills on each boat and emphasised the use of sprayhoods. It has also introduced a windspeed of 11 knots true wind above which all crew must be clipped on.