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US Sailing recognizes rescue attempt

Published on April 28th, 2022

US Sailing awarded David Branson (Toledo, OH) with the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for a rescue at the 2021 I-LYA Bay Week Regatta and Formula Wave Class Nationals in Put-In-Bay, OH. The award is given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who effect rescues of victims from the water.

During the regatta on July 30, Branson’s team on his Melges 24 Bullet was sailing out to the racecourse when another vessel called their attention to a Hobie Wave about 100 yards to their starboard. The skipper of the singlehanded catamaran was slumped over his tiller and appeared to be in distress. Branson, as a medical professional, sailed over to investigate and confirmed the Hobie skipper was in medical distress.

The race that morning had been postponed due to high winds, and at this time the wind was approximately 15 knots. The Bullet crew quickly discussed the best course of action, and agreed that with his medical skills, Branson was the best person to provide assistance. They sailed alongside the catamaran which was sailing on its own downwind about 7-8 knots.

Branson jumped aboard and performed an initial medical assessment of the victim and removed his lifejacket and moved him to the hard surface of a hull to be able to effectively perform CPR. Meanwhile, the crew on Bullet called for assistance both on the VHF radio and 911 on their cell phones.

The Race Committee boat responded to the distress call and came to tow the catamaran to shore. Branson had to steer the Hobie with his feet while continuing chest compressions as the boat was being towed. Rescue personnel met them ashore and performed a helicopter evacuation, though despite their combined efforts, the Hobie skipper did not survive.

Photo (left to right): Nancy Zangerle representing US Sailing; David Branson, Hanson Award recipient; I-LYA Past Commodore Duane Burgoyne; and I-LYA Past Commodore Steve Harris.

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