SAFETY FIRST

In the latest issue of Sails we examine the very real dangers of the sea, by bringing you first-hand accounts of misadventure and tragedy of sailors, and talking with experts about safety-proofing your next journey on the open water. We also preview the Golden Globe Race, travel to the pristine waters of Vanuatu, and sit down the sailing superstar Glenn Ashby about the next stellar in his stellar career.

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Editor’s Letter

Welcome to Issue 50 of Sails, a milestone issue in several ways. We have consciously chosen to focus on safety in this special edition of Sails, and for very good reason.

Recent tragedies – the loss of John Fisher in the Volvo Ocean Race and the deaths of Rob Thomas and Paul Owens in the capsize of WA yacht Finistere – have shaken the sailing world.

We have first-hand accounts of both emergencies, and they make for hard, but I think necessary reading for all offshore sailors. After all, the emphasis should be to find out the facts of what happened and learn from them.

You would think it would be somewhat ignorant, foolhardy, and potentially courting disaster not to be fully versed in the latest safety gear, rescue devices, MOB recovery techniques, and the methods employed by any rescue service that has to come and get you.

Because it’s pretty much a given when things go pear-shaped it will be the middle of the night; no moon, the water will be numbingly cold when you hit it, and there’s a good chance you will be banged-up from the crash gybe that’s just launched you over the side and into the void.

Yet, as I can testify from attending a recent sea-safety course, the majority of us are nowhere near as knowledgeable and prepared for a MOB situation as we might think we are.

The ocean is an unpredictable and potentially hostile environment. But we choose to go out upon it. The harsh reality is that ignorance; not knowing what to do when something goes wrong, can get you killed.

And it doesn’t even have to be the Tasman, or any other of the seas we traverse in our restless desire to venture beyond the horizon.

As Ann O’Brien recounts to Sails, the worst can nearly happen on a regular twilight. Fortunately, in Ann’s case, quick thinking by her crew and the swift actions of others, including medical professionals, saved her life.

We also hear from Australian Sailing President Matt Allen on how the sport’s peak body is working out the best way of increasing the chances of survival.

I’m certain every sailor would appreciate being the beneficiary of those odds.

See you on the water and stay safe,

SCOTT ALLE

Editor Sails Magazine