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27 December 2003, 12:18 pm
Arthur B. Hanson Medal
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Pat MITCHELL has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Just a few months ago, he was sailing on Lake Tahoe competing in a race when he fell overboard, into 60-degree water without wearing a personal floatation device.
The crew of another boat, named Après Ski, rescued Mitchell as the effects of hypothermia had already begun to set in. The crew of Après Ski was recently awarded US SAILING's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for coming to the aid of a fellow mariner in distress.

The incident occurred on September 17, 2003, when Mitchell, skipper of a Moore 24 named Free Flight, was sailing in the "Wet Wednesday" race at the Tahoe Windjammers Yacht Club on Lake Tahoe. It was 65 degrees and the wind was blowing at 25 knots with waves of up to four feet when Free Flight experienced a deathroll (the boat capsized to windward until the mast hit the water and then quickly righted itself), knocking Mitchell overboard. His crew reacted quickly by yelling, "Man overboard!" and throwing a life jacket towards the victim.

The crew of Après Ski, skipper Lynn WRIGHT with crew Mike ROBINSON and Michelle LANGLOIS, heard the call and immediately sailed towards Mitchell. Langlois continuously pointed at the Mitchell in the water while Robinson dropped the jib for better control in the conditions. Après Ski crew deployed a Lifesling, which the victim pulled over his head, under his arms and secured. They pulled Mitchell on board after, after he'd been in the water for nearly 20 minutes. Mitchell was taken below the deck and covered with a sail to warm him up while returning to shore. The crew of Free Flight returned safely to shore to meet up with their skipper.

For their rescue, the crew of Après Ski received US SAILING's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal on December 10, 2003. The medal was presented by the past commodore of the Tahoe Windjammers Yacht Club, Vic Beelik, during the club's annual Christmas and Trophy Award party.

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 14 years and is administered by US SAILING's Safety at Sea Committee (SASC).

The Rescue Medals recognize exemplary acts of seamanship, but the award process is also a vital part of US SAILING's effort to gain more education about rescues at sea. The data and stories of award nominees are studied carefully by the SASC for the common practices that contribute to, or deter from, the success of a rescue operation.

For more information about US SAILING's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal, please visit the address below.
US Sailing
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