Many of us have had large spells off the water this year, with some club and training centre activity being disrupted or unable to resume at this current time. Everyone's circumstances are different and when the time is right it is important to consider how we return to our many roles.
Boating is inherently safe, but an important consideration after a long period away from activity is a safe return. Whether it be your own safety, equipment used, those around you, or if an instructor or safety crew, those in your care.
Over the last six months, the RYA has released a series of Club Development videos looking at different aspects of club activity. As well as helping to increase knowledge and providing an opportunityto learn from others, the videos have covered key topics for both clubs and centres whilst our activity remains restricted.
In this article, we will look specifically at entrapments within dinghy sailing. However, it is important to remember an entrapment can happen in many forms and on a range of craft. Through the incident reporting log completed by our training centres and clubs, the RYA are able to identify common themes and lessons learnt, aiding advice, guidance and prevention.
Back in 2005, the RYA published entrapment research using statistical data to analyse the incidents which had occurred. The research also provided us with an ability to raise awareness of the risk of entrapment and to educate our network of possible prevention methods. It was also important to reinforce the safety of the sport, keeping the research in context with the number of people who participate.
15 years on, although boat design has seen developments with concepts such as foiling becoming more accessible and new classes emerging, the most important elements of awareness and prevention remain the same:
Careful consideration should be placed on ensuring full understanding and knowledge of all boats going afloat, including rigging procedures and alternative methods of rescue.
Each boat's functionality may be different and therefore should never be assumed. Risk assessments should be used to aid preparation and understanding, for example weighted keels which are designed to be lifted or retracted. Failure to properly secure the keel or centre plate in the down position may affect its ability to recover from a knockdown, compromising the safety of those aboard.
Similarly, consideration should be given to alternative means of righting an inverted craft where the centreboard or keel is retracted.
Personal equipment also needs careful consideration depending on the students and their abilities, the type of craft and the operational areas in which it is being used. Generally, in a dinghy and keelboat sailing environment, the use of buoyancy aids would be recommended, especially where there is a risk of capsize and entrapment. However, through careful consideration and risk assessment, there may be certain situations where life jackets may be deemed more appropriate.
In addition, trapeze harnesses have been identified as a contributing factor in a few incidences over the years, in both a training and racing environment. An ISO Standard for Trapeze harnesses was developed and published in 2009, designed mainly for a racing environment, but reinforcing the need for certain features to increase the general safety of wearing a harness.
This standard will be in the rulebook from January 2021 but does not come into force until 2023. However, as yet there are no harnesses on the market that meet the standard.
The RYA's incident reporting log is a really important way to record your incidents and accidents and provides a mechanism to review and look into lessons learnt, ensuring the key factors and messages remain current.
It is important to talk about incidents and share experiences. This information, although difficult for those involved, is fundamental to the continued safety and development of the sport.
Watch the video
The newest Club Development video looks at entrapment and a number of the areas detailed in this article, as well as delving a little deeper into some of the following areas:
Simply watch the video above or to catch up on the RYA's YouTube Channel click here. A new Club Development video is released every Thursday at 4pm as part of our Club Zone series. All the videos are available on the RYA YouTube Channel, subscribe here.