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US Sailing Logo US SAILING Press Release
Contact: Susan Cook

US SAILING to Begin to Change the Norms of the Sport

October 27, 1997 (Portsmouth, RI) - Following analysis of several drowning fatalities suffered by sailors in 1997, the Safety at Sea Committee of US SAILING proposed a resolution to add a U.S. prescription to the Offshore Racing Council regulations requiring the wearing of flotation while racing. This would apply to competitors in U.S. events which invoke the ORC regulations to wear personal flotation "while starting and finishing without exception, and at all other times except when the Captain of the boat directs that it may be set aside." The resolution passed unanimously at every level and will result in a prescription in the new edition of Recommendations for Offshore Sailing to be published by US SAILING in March 1998. It will become effective upon publication.

No definition of "personal flotation" is provided in the prescription, so that sailors may wear virtually any device they select for the purpose (however, a wetsuit will not suffice). Neither is USCG approval required for the device, since Type II and III PFDs are not suitable for offshore sailing, where the water is rough and rescue may not be immediately available. Inflatables with 35# buoyancy are suggested as the best solution, but many of these are not USCG-approved. However, when a non-approved device is worn, sufficient USCG-approved devices to satisfy legal requirements must also be carried in the boat.

Safety at Sea Committee Chairman John Bonds suggested to the Board of Directors that US SAILING had a moral obligation to lead the way in changing the norms of the sport, through the top levels of the sport, until virtually every sailor wears personal flotation as naturally as they now buckle their seatbelts on the way to the marina. "We don't lose many sailors in any one year," he noted, "but they are all our friends, and their deaths are needless. We have a responsibility to lead and now is the time. It is simply the right thing to do."

For more information or questions regarding this resolution, contact J. B. Bonds (Chairman, Safety at Sea Committee) at 75410.2126@Compuserve.com or 803/971-1636 (fax). Rapid response via same medium.



17 - 11/27/1997
Press release provided courtesy of US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport of sailing.
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