Hunter 376 Aegean
On Oct. 30, US Sailing released a report from its independent review panel that examined the April 28 accident aboard the Hunter 376 Aegean during the Newport to Ensenada Race. Here are some of their findings (from US Sailing’s website):
**Synopsis of Findings and Recommendations from the Report:
_The panel determined that a key element of the accident was likely an inadequate lookout, and that it is likely that Aegean inadvertently motored beyond a waypoint set before North Coronado Island. Although the inadequate lookout was the proximal cause of the accident, there were additional safety issues that came to light during the inquiry, and improvements in these areas could prevent or reduce the severity of other accidents in the future.
According to the International Maritime Organization, a lookout’s task is to prevent collision. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (1972) Rule 5 says (in part): Every vessel must at all times keep a proper look-out by sight (day shape or lights by eyes or visual aids), hearing, and all available means in order to judge if risk of collision exists. According to the International Sailing Federation Case 26, all boats, whether or not holding the right of way, should keep a lookout at all times.
The panel relied on available facts to create this report. There were no survivors and no eyewitnesses to the accident. The facts include the SPOT Connect (GPS tracking device with text capacity) position reports from which vessel course and speed were derived, times of SPOT Connect text transmissions during the race, published material, press reports including accounts of the San Diego Coroner’s report and the results of their toxicology analysis, interviews with race organizers, participants and past crew from Aegean, wreckage found at North Coronado Island and in the debris field and underwater at North Coronado Island.
**The panel recommends improvements in the following areas:
1. Always maintain a lookout, with a watch of at least two people, using audible waypoint and radar alarms.
2. Racers need to be made aware of the light obscuration zones in the Coronado Islands.
3. Each watch must understand the operation of the boat’s navigation systems.
4. The use of autopilots while motoring should be reviewed by race organizers.
5. To improve communication, racers should monitor VHF 16 and race organizers should provide a 24-hour emergency contact.
6. US Sailing should create a guide to emergency signaling devices.
7. US Sailing should create a crisis management template for race organizers.