Safety at the expense of participation

Published on March 24th, 2014

by Erik Simonson, Pressure Drop
The 35th edition of the Bay Area Multihull Association (BAMA) Doublehanded Farallones race kicked off the 2014 offshore season on March 22 for San Francisco Bay. Run since 1978, the race provides an opportunity for those who like company, but not too much of it, to venture out to the treacherous Farallon Islands beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.

It has been BAMA’s contribution to the sailing community, and has for all intents and purposes, been dominated in number by monohulls, despite it multi hulled marquee. In it’s prime, 1984, the Doublehanded Farallones attracted 144 competitors, but still pulled 105 entrants in 2007. However, numbers have declined since the economic bubble burst, removing numerous sailors from the affordability of owning and maintaining a seaworthy vessel, and keeping up with the increasing cost of safety equipment required.

In more recent years, organizers of offshore events, as well as sailors themselves, have seen spikes in insurance for their own boats, and events followed suit. Insurance companies, more so then ever, have added increased stipulations and policies to protect themselves from exposure, a result of recent severe incidents both north and south here on the West Coast.

Last year, the installment of the Northern California Ocean Racing Council provided a list of recommendation for offshore event coordinators as well as participants when they released the council’s Minimum Offshore Requirements, and this year’s edition Version 2.2.

The bottom line, there has been a large increases in expenses around the horn, and some sailors who have sailed for years offshore – without the new required gear – take exception to the new rules and have boycotted offshore events in response.

The 2014 Doublehanded Farallones attracted only 53 boats, which is 5 boats smaller than in the two previous years. Click here for complete report.

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