Findings from a Clipper Race fatality

Published on June 20th, 2019

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is a UK government agency authorized to investigate maritime accidents on board UK vessels worldwide, and other vessels in UK territorial waters. Their latest findings pertains to a fatality that occurred during the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

On November 18, 2017, crewman Simon Speirs fell overboard from the foredeck of the Clipper Ventures’ yacht CV30, a Tony Castro designed Clipper 70.

The accident occurred 1500nm west of Fremantle, Australia, following an accidental gybe in very rough seas while the crew were lowering the headsail. The crewman was initially secured to the yacht by his tether, but before the crew could recover him on board his tether hook distorted and released.

After the fall overboard, the skipper, who was on the helm, tried to slow the yacht and maneuver to recover the crewman but his ability to do so was limited as a result of damage sustained during the gybe. The crewman was recovered 32 minutes later but sadly with no signs of life.

Safety issues
• The dangers of lateral loading of tether hooks and the importance of tether securing points arrangement to ensure tether hooks cannot become entangled.
• The importance of adequately risk assessing foredeck operations to ensure sufficient control measures are put in place to keep crew safe.
• Ensuring tethered man overboard recovery procedures are effective and regularly drilled.
• Minimizing yacht defects to avoid undue workload for the crew, contributing to their fatigue, lowering morale and increasing the chance of mistakes.

• Safety recommendations (2019/110, 2019/111 and 2019/112) have been made to the BSI Committee, World Sailing and Spinlock regarding updating guidance to raise awareness of the dangers of laterally loading safety tether hooks.

• Safety recommendations (2019/113 and 2019/114) have also been made to Clipper Ventures to review and update its risk assessments and procedures particularly for foredeck operations and methods for recovery of both tethered and untethered man overboards, as well as yacht maintenance and repair aspects

Accident Investigation Report
Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
MAIB investigation report 7-2019: CV30
Annexes to MAIB investigation report 7-2019: CV30

Related publications
MAIB safety bulletin 1/2018: use of safety harness tethers on sailing yachts
MAIB report 12/2018: investigation of the ground and loss of the Clipper Ventures’ yacht CV24.
MAIB report 7/2017: investigation of two fatal accidents on board Clipper Ventures’ yacht CV21.
MAIB report 4/2012: investigation of a fatal man overboard from the Reflex 38 yacht Lion.

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