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White Spirit Reflects on the Importance of Safety and Training

“Many of you will know that White Spirit lost her mast in the Geelong regatta a few months back, though it seems like only yesterday. Fortunately, all crew members are well and variously back into sailing on different boats. In reflecting on that event and everything that follows, three key things stand out:

1. The amazing in-the-moment response from fellow sailors and emergency services.

2. The close support both at the time and post-event from the teams at ORCV and RYCV. Note: there was a real focus from both organisations on the mental health and well being of my crew which was much appreciated.

3. The importance of safety training and preparation. This last one is often considered 'a bit of a pain' in terms of time and money. However, when things go pear-shaped, you and your crew really need to have the processes, equipment and readiness already in place.

I reflected with the ORCV team that no-one really prepares for a demasting. We jump off boats for MOB, practice using flares, clamber into liferafts fully clothed and geared. But I don't think (most) ever think about or rehearse what to do when the rig crashes down on you. However, this is definitely one I'll add to crew training and practise moving forward.

Having the whole rig come down is cognitively and emotionally massive - therefore, a little like combat training, at least running through the scenario and practicing things like cutting the rig away, or securing it, assisting and stabilising injured crew members while communicating with Race Control, other boats, emergency services etc., and maintaining safety of the vessel in the situation is something we should all do. Practising the event should make dealing with the actual event better.

....looking forward to when White Spirit will be back racing”. Happy and Safe Sailing, Cyrus Allen (Skipper White Spirit)


Photography Credit:  Dave Hewison