I observed a fleet of chartered yachts racing. There was a fresh 5/6 SW breeze. The boats were running downwind under spinnaker. On several boats, a crew member was on the foredeck acting as a human boom preventer. It was totally unnecessary and in my view a very dangerous practice in these conditions. There is no way they could have prevented an involuntary gybe should it have occurred. There was a severe risk of injury or man overboard
I feel a warning should be issued from a safety perspective particularly as these were charter boats and the individuals involved may not be experienced or seasoned racing crew.
We wrote to the manager of the flotilla. He replied as follows:
“I can confirm that all our racing yachts are supplied with a mainsail boom preventer which we brief should always be rigged when going down wind. This line is clearly identified from any other line aboard by being very bright colour.(they are bright orange) These are identified in the yachts inventory and checked as correct by the skipper before each charter starts.
The dangers of gybing are briefed to clients before each charter though clearly we do not go through the complete drill. Uncontrolled gybes and the dangers from the boom and main sheet sweeping the cock pit are also briefed. Regarding the quality and experience of the crews of our yachts these comply with the MCA code of practice, that skippers and mate are required to be experienced prior to charter.
Please thank the reporting yacht skipper for bringing the issue up. I am always interested in safety issues.”