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12 March 2005, 09:58 pm
RYA Releases Dinghy Entrapment Research Findings
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RYA News
Southampton, Great Britain

Pioneering research conducted by the RYA has shown that dinghy sailing is still a very safe sport with the statistical risk to a sailor of getting stuck under their boat extremely small.
Lack of research into dinghy entrapments and heightened public awareness prompted the RYA to initiate a research programme focusing on identifying trends in incident figures, common contributing factors and most the effective rescue techniques. The statistical risk appeared to be small, but there was no research on the subject to underpin this assumption. As well as setting up a mechanism for dinghy sailors to log incidents, the RYA looked into ways of preventing entrapments by examining boat design and by developing and testing the most effective rescue techniques.

Forty four incidents were logged during 2003 and 2004 via the RYA website. In addition, air gap tests were conducted under a range of boats, a range of rescue techniques tested and discussions took place with the major dinghy manufacturers. Key findings were;

· There are no clear patterns in the cause of incidents, which occurred in a wide range of conditions and boats.

· Neither the experience of the sailor nor the equipment used suggested a single dominant factor in the incidents recorded.

· The statistical risk to a dinghy sailor of becoming dangerously trapped is tiny, but sailors should be aware that these incidents can happen.

· Rescue can be difficult in the time available and staying calm contributes to the chance of escape.

· The most common cause of entrapment was 30% getting ropes tangled around the body or limbs, 30% was getting caught on other control lines and straps and 30% involved some part of the trapeze harness.

· The most effective rescue of a trapped sailor is to right the boat as rapidly as possible. The best prevention is good housekeeping aboard, maintaining elastic and being aware of the problem.

Due to the lack of previous data it is impossible to establish a trend or an indication as to whether entrapments are on the increase, but there is no specific reason to think that they are. A downloadable version of the full report is available via the link below.

Bethan Ancell/RYA
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