High performance brings greater risk

Published on April 12th, 2022

The 49er Class was designed for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and later came the 49erFX Class for the Rio 2016 Olympics. These doublehanded, double-trapeze skiffs for men and women have their DNA from Australia, a country that knows fast.

But high performance boats offer greater risk, and while injury is not uncommon during a capsize when stopping suddenly, two recent deaths offer a reminder that greater danger exists.

In the 49er Class, Naveen Vashist (IND) died as a result of a capsize at the Yachting Association of India Senior National Sailing Championships on December 13, 2021. The 25-year-old slipped and hit his head on the hull, and after being in a coma, died on December 22.

On April 10, Tokyo 2020 Olympian Eya Guezguez (TUN) drowned when her 49erFX capsized. While an investigation is underway, it appears the 17-year-old was held under water while tangled in rigging.

“While 49er sailing is very dynamic and on the surface, these two instances are not related, we remind all sailors to try and stay clear of the boat in upset conditions, knowing that is not an easy task,” noted the Class Organization. “Mostly we just wanted to make sure sailors are aware of the tragedy that has befallen our two friends and trust we will all keep as safe as possible on water.”

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