This past Saturday during the Berkeley YC Midwinters a distress call went out on VHF Channel 78 from a J/24’s skipper alerting racers of a man overboard. The individual had been hit in the head by the boom during a jibing maneuver and was knocked in the Bay, still conscious.
Will Paxton, owner of the Express 27, Motorcycle Irene brought the incident to our attention. His and numerous other boats were preparing to start a race when the incident occurred. "Several boats circled for 15 minutes or so before Phil Krasner and his crew showed up on his Express 27, Wetsu, with some proper life saving gear and they were able to get the victim out of the water after a 20-minute struggle.
From all indications, this was no simple task. By the time Wetsu reached the man, he was showing early signs of hypothermia and had lost the use of his legs, further complicating the rescue operation, which was accomplished by bringing him over Wetsu’s transom.
Although uncommon, incidents like this always give us pause to consider how difficult it can be to raise someone out of the water and the kind of safety gear we use while enjoying racing on the Bay. We’ll continue discussion of this topic in the March edition of Latitude 38, and we’d love your input. Aboard your race boat, daysailer or cruiser, what measures do you take to facilitate crew-overboard rescues?