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Man Overboard: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

Published on August 4th, 2015

Kelly Robinson, Junior Safety at Sea Program Director for the Storm Trysail Foundation, shares a success story rooted in preparation…

If anyone has doubts that the future of sailing is in good hands, consider the story of the J/105 Bigamy sailing in the Atlantic Highlands (NJ) Blue Water Regatta this past Saturday, August 1.

As boats were approaching the final leeward mark of the day in strong breeze, a large gust hit, creating havoc for several of the boats as they prepared to round. Among the group was Bigamy, which wrapped its kite and rolled out, sending its helmsman/owner Dennis Meichel over the side.

Dennis quickly became separated from the boat. Despite most of the crew being seasoned adults, it was 17-year old Brandon Horvath who grabbed the helm and took charge, keeping the boat close to the MOB and getting a spotter in place while the rest of the crew worked to quickly clear the spinnaker gear. The MOB was recovered unharmed and on the first pass by a nearby competitor (Art Topilow’s, Dr. Jazz), with the crew of Bigamy standing by.

Of critical importance, both boats had people aboard that had received training in, and practiced, MOB recovery. Brandon’s father Ken noted that his son had practiced the maneuvers annually for several years while attending the Storm Trysail Foundation’s Junior Safety at Sea (JrSAS) Program. Ken also noted that he had attended SAS programs both as an adult and with his son at JrSAS, and believes it is important for parents to be involved in—and reinforce—the training their kids receive.

Several of the crew aboard Dr. Jazz had also attended STF’s hands-on adult Safety at Sea program and identified that training as a key factor in their speedy recovery. Ironically, Dennis had just loaned his boat the week before to the same program that trained Brandon in previous years. You never know when the kid you help to train might be your rescuer.

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