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Has the Coast Guard Gone Overboard?

"The Yacht Racing Association (YRA) is taking a chickenshit position on the Coast Guard’s just-announced revocation of offshore racing permits," Matt Peterson of FastBottoms Hull Diving wrote on our Facebook page. "The YRA is advocating that sailors simply bend over and take whatever the Coasties want to shove up our collective behinds because it’s in our ‘best interests’ to keep the people who rescue boaters in distress happy. I say bullshit. The Coasties aren’t out there doing the boating public a favor when they save someone’s life, they are out there doing their taxpayer-supported and government-mandated duties. And they are overstepping their bounds with this knee-jerk reaction to what is absolutely a terrible tragedy. This wasn’t an industrial accident requiring government intervention and oversight. It was something bad that happened to people that made a choice to pursue a risky pastime. The Coast Guard does not need to restrict our freedom to sail because five people unfortunately lost their lives sailing any more than the National Transportation Safety Board needs to ban air travel when a plane crashes."

While we’re certainly nowhere as vehement as Peterson in his disagreement with the Coast Guard and the YRA, it seems to us that the Coast Guard could have achieved the same goal by requiring the YRA to temporarily establish depth and/or distance limitations from the Farallones.  

As for Coast Guard Captain of the Port Cindy Stowe planning to call in US Sailing to determine if safety regulations for offshore races need to be changed, we’re of a mixed mind. We think it’s correct of her to look to sailors for expertise, but shouldn’t she have looked to local sailors, the ones who sail these waters, the ones who know them best, to decide if safety regulations for the races ought to be changed?

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Caution: This is a curious story that involves classic yachts in the Caribbean, a Northern California owner, a mediocre finish in class, the top award presented by a rock ‘n roll star, and squabbling in the crew over a watch.