Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal Presented
On behalf of US SAILING, past Board Member Tom Allen, Jr. presented the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to the crews of the Elan and Punnett for rescuing an unconscious sailor from the cold and treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay earlier this year.
The awards were presented at the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay Winners Ceremony at Bay View Boat Club on November 20.
On March 16, 2002, Elan, an Express 37 under mainsail only, was returning to harbour following the second race of the St. Francis Yacht Club's Spring One Design Regatta when they discovered a broken fastening on the lower port shroud. They gybed quickly to shift pressure to the starboard shrouds. One of the trimmers, Richard Beauregard, stepped in to help handle the mainsheet. As the boat gybed, the boom struck Beauregard in the head and knocked him to the deck. Before anyone could reach him, Beauregard slid under the lifelines and into the water. Initially, Beauregard was face down in the water, unconscious; almost immediately however, the flotation forces of his Personal Floatation Device (PDF) rolled him over onto his back, and pulled his head out of the water.
Fellow crew Scott Sorenson, a paramedic, and John Kernot - both wearing PFD's - jumped overboard immediately to assist Beauregard. Beauregard, still unconscious when they reached him, was bleeding from a deep laceration in his forehead. After a long five minutes, Beauregard slowly began to regain consciousness. However, as he came to, he became agitated and struggled to sit up, which only increased the flow of blood from his wound. Sorenson, realizing the potential danger, immediately began to apply compression to stem the blood loss.
As Elan was dousing her mainsail, Rick Wallace, a board sailor, was watching the events unfold from the beach at Crissy Field. Once he saw the sailors go overboard, he immediately launched his board and sailed to their aid. Upon arriving on the scene, Wallace, Kernot, and Sorenson used the sailboard to support Beauregard and provide the necessary stability to attend to his injury.
The St. Francis Yacht Club finish line boat, Punnett, a hard-bottom inflatable, with Dennis George, Don Nazzal and two high school students had also been monitoring the situation. Realizing that sailors were in the water, they left the finish line, and raced to the scene. As they reached the sailors, they radioed shore to notify officials of the situation and request emergency services. In spite of difficult conditions brought on by strong winds and the opposing tide, and exacerbated by the floating sailboard sail, which limited their approach to one side, the Punnett was able to safely retrieve the three crew of Elan from the water. By that time, the crew of the Elan had spent at least 15, if not 20 minutes in the water. The Punnett then headed directly to the St Francis Yacht Club, where an ambulance and emergency personnel were waiting. Beauregard was loaded onto a backboard and sped off to San Francisco General's Emergency Room. Beauregard was treated with 20 stitches. Upon arrival, his hypothermic body temperature was 86°F. An hour later it had risen to 96.8°F, and he was released.
The US SAILING Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who affect rescues of victims from the water. The award is made for rescues in U.S. waters, or in races that originate or terminate in a U.S. port. The Rescue Medal has been in existence for twelve years and is administered by US SAILING's Safety-at-Sea Committee (SASC).
The Rescue Medal recognizes acts of exemplary seamanship, and the award process is also used by the SASC as a way to gain more education about rescues at sea. The data and stories of award nominees are studied carefully for the common practices that contribute to, or deter from, the success of a rescue operation.