Blame assessed in Dauphin Island Race

Published on April 16th, 2019

On April 25, 2015 a storm moved through Mobile Bay with near hurricane force winds, crossing the course of the 57th annual Dauphin Island Race, a popular one-way, 18-mile course beginning in the upper Bay and ending near the Dauphin Island Bridge in the Bay’s southwestern corner.

The storm wreaked havoc among the fleet, leading to a chain of events that resulted in the heartbreaking loss of six lives, the rescue of 40 people from the water, and the sinking of eight boats. Now, nearly four years later, the United States Coast Guard has completed and released the investigation report on this tragic day on Mobile Bay.

Analysis Summary:
• A storm was forecasted and participants did not sufficiently anticipated the conditions.
• Participants were too casual in their approach toward safety and responsibility.
• The start of the race was unnecessarily delayed. If started on time, the number of participants impacted by the storm would have been considerably less.
• A lack of accountability made it difficult to determine the number of boats and participants impacted by the storm.
• Both the USCG and event organizer had the authority to postpone or cancel the start to ensure safety and did not.
• Not wearing, or inability to access PFDs, was a contributing factor in this event.

Safety Recommendation Summary:
• US Sailing to amend rules to require PFDs to be worn at all times.
• US Sailing to amend rules to require handheld VHF radio in the cockpit.
• US Sailing to amend rules to require every boat to check-in prior to start with crew on deck, wearing PFDs, and displaying handheld VHF radio.
• US Sailing to amend rules to require every boat to submit finalized crew list prior to start of race.
• Additional recommendations were directed toward changes in the permitting of regattas by the USCG.

To read the complete report… click here.

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