Recognizing the elephant in the room

Published on May 18th, 2022

Formerly known as Whidbey Island Race Week, this Pacific Northwest regatta has been on the move since its 2019 edition. The Whidbey Island facilities were no longer sufficient, so change was needed, but then the pandemic hit. Plans made had to be remade.

After the 2020 event joined the chorus and was cancelled, the event found (another) new home for 2021 in Anacortes, WA. It was all systems go, and they did, except for a fatal accident during the June competition. Seattle sailor Greg Mueller, 58, crewing on the J/120 With Grace, fell overboard and perished.

The storied event which began in 1983 has had a rough go, but 2022 is a year to move forward, yet not without recognizing the elephant in the room… safety. Here’s a message from 2022 Race Week Anacortes to be held June 20-24:

As we get closer to a great week on the water together, now is a good time to review safety protocols with your crews, and arrange for practice drills on board your boat. Below are links to two videos recommended by the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee.

Please plan a movie night with your crews to watch the videos, and discuss your MOB and other safety drills and tactics with each other.

Best Current Video on MOB Recovery
MOB Recovery and the Role of Seamanship

After last summer’s MOB incident at Race Week, we’re all reminded of the importance of going head to wind to stop a boat, and have a knife handy to cut lines should someone on your crew fall overboard while tangled up in lines. We have a fleet of race committee support boats on the course, who can be called in to assist in the event of an emergency – but MOB basics should be required for anyone who steps on board a boat.

Putting Safety Measures In Place
Race Week’s safety record speaks for itself. In the nearly 40 years of history, Race Week has never had an MOB incident that resulted in the loss of life. Last summer was a stark reminder that safety can’t be taken for granted. We all have work to do to improve.

As an event producer, we’ll do our part and have a detailed Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in place that will be shared with the competitors in the Sailing Instructions. We’re also going to have a designated safety boat on the course with an AED on board.

Additionally, Race Week will require that all skippers keep a crew log on board, that accounts for all active crew racing at the event. This crew log should include your crew’s full legal name, birthdate, and an emergency contact for each.

It is our hope that all teams come to Race Week prepared – and that we all work together to grow the sport with safety in mind. May 18 would have been Gregory Mueller’s Birthday.

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