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11 April 2002, 10:28 am
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Paul Henderson Speaks - On Safety

On 6 April, ISAF published comments from Paul Henderson addressing safety issues - we publish your feedback.
Extract from Paul Henderson Article:
"It is with a heavy heart we all heard about the tragic loss of the fine Austrian Tornado sailor, Johannes Haeupl, who was competing at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain.

We all know that our sport is one where we take our boats to sea to challenge nature knowing the risks but when such an unfortunate tragedy happens we are all reflective. Our sincere thoughts are with the Haeupl Family and the Tornado Fraternity at this time.

During these times we all focus on how such unfortunate happenings can be prevented in the future. I have had several personal calls from top sailors pointing out issues where ISAF should ensure safety regulations are put in place. ISAF does not want to become bureaucratic but when the top sailors come forward and make valid observations ISAF should act. Here are the concepts that have been presented."

To read the whole article, click on the link below.


Your Feedback

Alan Green, GBR
Chairman ISAF Offshore Special Regulations Sub-Committee


I share your concern and sense of loss of Johannes Haeupl. In the discussion of improved safety measures you mention that Patrick de Barros has suggested that ISAF should not allow inflatable lifejackets, but only those with permanent buoyancy. There are hundreds if not thousands of
inflatable lifejackets in use in the offshore sailing community including in some of the most arduous long distance races. One of the reasons is that a lifejacket with 150N permanent foam buoyancy is so large that its sheer bulk is a strong disincentive to its being worn. The ISAF Offshore Special Regulations do not specify how buoyancy is to be provided in a lifejacket but leave this choice to the user.

I suggest that any proposed rules on lifejacket types should be considered by classes or groups of classes and not by ISAF en bloc. I do not believe that the offshore community will wish to change their current practice.


Jean Lemoine, FRA
I agree that the 150 N jacket is too big and very uncomfortable. The special regulations do not specify the buoyancy of a life jacket and the special regulations are right.

Alan is living in England, a country where there are only few governmental regulations. I am living in France and, unfortunately the situation is very different. We have law and we are not free to choose the life jacket we need, the most convenient jacket for our navigation. If aboard your yacht you do not carry the official model you may get a fine. The result of this stupid situation is that many yachtsmen have on board official life jackets in a locker. They do not use the official model, they use another one lighter. Of course if the police check the life jacket, they show those which are in the locker.

Patrick we sailed many races together while you were student in France. In this time there was no European standard and each country had its own standard. The French life jackets in this time were smaller than now (7.5 kgand now 150N !).

Unfortunately as soon as there was a European Standard the
French government adopted the new one.....

In the same old time inflatable jackets were prohibited in France. The representative of government told me that the inflatable jacket were dangerous. The opinion of our government about safety is not a technical point of view but a matter of policy. Unfortunately the standard is mandatory in France. Now the inflatable jackets are not dangerous .......

Alan the problem of the life jackets is very similar to the problem of emergency raft. In France we have a host of employee of government who have nothing to do except to right mandatory regulations..


Cory Friedman, USA
Your concern about safety, although belated, is welcome. But why are you just talking about it? Why doesn't ISAF simply immediately amend the rules -- and make sure they stick? A 720 should not be the penalty. Safety violations for competitive advantage are exactly the same as drug violations, and should be treated the same.


Richard H. Hanneman, Houston, USA
President Henderson and Hans Fogh are absolutely right about Hobbles vs. Hiking Straps. The classes will NEVER ban hobbles and ISAF should do it immediately! That action will result in better boat design, more skillful and safer sailing.


Alan Henderson, GBR
Good set of suggestions.

Yes, hobbles should be banned.
Inflatable lifejackets could be banned too. If banned on dinghies and dayboats, why not on yachts too?

On yacht design, should there also be a set of self-contained buoyancy compartments so that hull rupture or cockpit/cabin flooding does not result in sinking? Solid bouyancy within the compartment could also be worth a thought.


Kristen Kosmala, AUS
Well said, Cory!

While I understand that it is initially necessary to stand back and consider all of the relevant issues thoroughly so as to avoid reactive decisions and policy making, I believe that it should be a matter of the highest priority, and certainly that some decisions and policy could be made almost instantly.

On the matter of Hobbles Vs Hiking straps, it is possible to set up hiking systems that are more comfortable and just as effective as hobbles. As the hiking strap system does not require that crew be clipped into the boat, it must be MUCH SAFER.


Bruce Eissner, USA, Chairman ISAF Oceanic Sub-Committee
Thanks for bringing up the topic of safety in general and lifejackets (pfd's) in particular in "Making Waves." It's always worth talking about.

Research has shown that, in offshore and oceanic settings, fixed-flotation pfd's are not just inconvenient. They can be hazardous.

Alan Green is right. While all pfd's should provide adequate flotation, the means for ensuring that flotation (fixed, inflatible) can best be specified by the classes or groups according to the conditions in which they sail.


David Melcon
With regards to the drowning of the tornado sailor in Spain. Did any of the other sailors on the course who noticed the overturned boat divert their attention long enough to verify that both crew members were free of the boat, or consider aiding the crashboat attempting the rescue? A knife evidently all that was needed to save this individuals life and certainly there were sailors in the fleet who always carry knives aboard. Additionally a group of experienced sailors can quickly right a turtled boat that cannot be righted by single crewman even with the assistance of the crashboat operators.

While it is important to address hardware issues relating to safety it remains the responsibility of every sailor to abandon their personal agendas when another vessel is in jeopardy and remain on the sight to assist until it is clear that there is no danger to the crew of the stricken vessel.










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