Has sailing become more dangerous?

I started sailing when I was about 7. My first boat was an El Toro (which I still own) and as a youngster I sailed all sorts of dinghy’s. My college years saw me moving up to larger boats and longer races until I finally quit racing in the early 80′s. In my racing years I can remember two deaths. The first was off of Santa Cruz in a dinghy race and the second was in a Swiftsure race in the mid 70′s.

Reading the news today it seems that deaths in sailboat races are much more common. I have to ask why? In my era booze was flowing both on and off the boat. Now my friends that race don’t even carry booze on their boats (too much weight perhaps?). Unless I was sailing a dinghy my life jacket stayed below, safety harness- what was that, and items like EPIRB’s had not even been developed. Still we made it home safely though maybe not as quickly as today’s boats.

Not being involved with racing anymore it is difficult to understand what the problem is. Maybe the internet keeps us more in touch and that there really were more deaths years ago but it was a small community and even in those days, news traveled quickly. Maybe the boats were stronger years ago, I still see Cal 40′s on the water and I doubt some of the more recent racing boats will have such longevity. Or maybe we spent more time on the water in those days, racing almost every weekend for years on end. Whatever the change, it is not good. I feel for those who have lost loved ones and hope we can look back to see that lessons were learned and that disasters became less common.

Rollie Herman

Rollie Herman

Working in the marine industry since 1971, president of Westpac Marine since 1984.
Past president of the United States Marine Safety Association and retired sailor
Rollie Herman

Published by

Rollie Herman

Working in the marine industry since 1971, president of Westpac Marine since 1984. Past president of the United States Marine Safety Association and retired sailor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *