5 Ways to Improve Safety for your Yacht Race Sailing Crew
5 Ways to Improve Safety for your Yacht Race Sailing Crew

Keeping crew healthy and happy is an important consideration when racing, and especially if you’re planning a passage or long offshore event.

Improve crew safety on your yacht with a few simple tips to make sure everyone is well-prepared in case of an emergency situation.

1. Safety and first aid training

Offshore Personal Survival (also known as Safety and Sea Survival or Advanced Sea Survival), Marine First Aid and Marine Radio Operator courses all provide important skills and experience to crew on a race yacht.

All of these will provide knowledge and confidence for crew, so they know what to do in the case of an emergency situation.

Encourage crew to gain these qualifications and keep them up-to-date to continually refresh their skills. This is something you can do together as a team, or crew can do these individually.

Click here to read more about useful qualifications for yacht racing crew.

2. Create yacht safety manuals for your crew

Create a Safety Equipment Guide and Emergency Procedures Manual to share with your crew.

These documents are a great way to help on-board new crew and provide regular crew with a quick reference to refresh their memories about your yacht’s safety information.

Your Safety Equipment Guide shows the location of all safety equipment on your yacht and should be posted in a prominent location; often this is next to the gangway or navigation station.

The Emergency Procedures Manual provides a step-by-step process and crew responsibilities for emergency situations such as an MOB, fire, dismasting, serious injury or call to abandon the vessel. This document should be shared with crew and discussed before heading out on the water, especially when racing offshore.

3. Check and maintain safety equipment

Racing regulations will stipulate what safety equipment a yacht is required to carry, which varies depending on the category of the race.

As well as carrying the required equipment, it’s important to ensure this equipment is in good working order and stored where it can easily be retrieved when required. Your Safety Equipment Guide will help crew find safety equipment when required.

It’s also important to ensure crew know how to operate the safety equipment on your yacht. The courses discussed above will help crew learn how to operate safety, first aid and radio equipment. Another good thing to do is to go through this with your crew and talk through how each piece of equipment operates. The more chances crew have to familiarise themselves with safety equipment, the easier it will be for them to find and use this equipment in case of an emergency.

Click here to read more about some equipment that will help keep crew safe on a race yacht.

4. Discuss and practice safety procedures

As well as your safety equipment, take some time to go through your safety procedures and what to do in different emergency situations.

Your Emergency Procedures Manual provides a great way to share these processes with crew and help familiarise them with their roles in case of an emergency.

As well as sharing this manual with crew, it’s a good idea to go through these as a group and discuss any questions or how to deal with alternate situations. You can also role play some of the scenarios to work through what each crew member would do in different situations.

5. Do some MOB training

An MOB (man overboard, or person overboard) situation can be very serious.

It’s important that you and your crew know how to react to quickly and safely retrieve the person from the water. A few things to do to ensure you and crew are prepared for an MOB situation are:

  1. Have a defined MOB procedure and roles in place. Each critical role should have a backup, so depending on who is in the water, there is someone to do that role.
  2. Document and talk through your MOB procedure with your crew on a regular basis. Make sure everyone knows what their role (and backup role) is, and how to do it.
  3. Talk through different possible scenarios and what should be done in each. For example, the steps to take if sailing downwind offshore in a heavy breeze versus what you need to do in a white sail inshore race in gentle breeze.
  4. Get out and practice your MOB procedures. If you can get an MOB dummy, this is the best way to train as you will get a better feel for how to retrieve an unconscious or semi-conscience person from the water.