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Bulletin On Use Of Safety Tethers In Wake Of Clipper Race Tragedy

12th January 2018
Simon Speirs was given a sea burial after the tragedy in the Southern Ocean last November Simon Speirs was given a sea burial after the tragedy in the Southern Ocean last November Photo: Clipper Ventures

#ClipperRace - The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued a Safety Bulletin on the “use of safety harness tethers on sailing yachts” following the tragic fatality of GREAT Britain crew member Simon Speirs on Leg 3 of the latest Clipper Race.

Clipper Race management has been working in co-operation with the appropriate authorities to understand the reasons as to why Speirs’ safety tether did not keep him on board.

Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “We continue to be deeply saddened by Simon’s loss and it is important that we learn the lessons from this tragic accident.

“The Safety Bulletin from the MAIB reinforces what we have said to crew at our Sydney stopover and we have taken steps to prevent a situation like this ever occurring again.

“Sailing is essentially a safe sport but when we see something like this happening, we need to put our heads together to see what we can do to remove the problem.”

As explained at the crew brief in Sydney before the start of Race 6, initial investigations established that the cause of the failure was a very unusual tether clip angle, owing to the clip being pulled sideways against a hard object.

This resulted in the clip failing at well below its straight test strength and measures have been taken to eliminate this risk.

Following further testing of the original tether, which is top of the range, the Clipper Race and the safety committee of each boat unanimously agreed to return to using it at the Sydney stopover subject to these additional measures being put in place.

Sir Robin explained in a recent interview that these measures include wrapping 10mm rope around the cleats to the point that the tether now slides over them, and the Clipper Race will stop at nothing to further improve the safety measures wherever possible across the fleet.

The MAIB has said it will publish a full report on the fatality of Simon Speirs — including all identified contributing factors — on completion of the investigation, which is currently ongoing.

Published in Clipper Race
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures on the planet, also regarded as one of its toughest endurance challenges. Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors. Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to train drivers, nurses and firefighters, farmers, airline pilots and students, from age 18 upwards, to take on Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions. There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date is 76.

Now in its twelfth edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race started from London, UK, on 02 September 2019.

 

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