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During 2003/04 the RYA conducted research into the numbers and contributing factors of entrapments under capsized dinghies. During that time, 44 incidents were logged.

As well as setting up the online reporting system, we looked at ways of preventing entrapments by examining boat design and developing and testing rescue techniques. In addition, air gap tests were conducted under a range of boats and discussions took place with the major dinghy manufacturers.

Findings from the survey can be downloaded from the link on the right.

Key findings of the research:

  • Dinghy sailing is still a very safe sport with the statistical risk of getting stuck under the boat following a capsize extremely small;
  • There are no clear patterns in the cause of incidents, which occurred in a wide range of conditions and boats;
  • Neither the experience of the sailor nor the equipment used suggested a single dominant factor in the incidents recorded;
  • The statistical risk to a dinghy sailor of becoming dangerously trapped is tiny, but sailors should be aware that these incidents can happen;
  • Rescue can be difficult in the time available and staying calm contributes to the chance of escape;
  • The most common cause of entrapment was 30% getting ropes tangled around the body or limbs, 30% getting caught on other control lines and straps and 30% involved some part of the trapeze harness;
  • The most effective rescue of a trapped sailor is to right the boat as rapidly as possible;
  • The best prevention is good housekeeping aboard, maintaining elastic and being aware of the problem.

Due to the lack of previous data it is impossible to establish a trend or an indication as to whether entrapments are on the increase, but there is no specific reason to think that they are.