Artemis Pitchpoled; 1 Dead

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Earl Boebert, May 9, 2013.

  1. Earl Boebert
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    Earl Boebert Senior Member

    In my view, there are three sets of issues associated with this event: what the organizers are attempting, where they are attempting it, and how they are proceeding. PAR has succinctly and IMHO correctly described the issues associated with what the organizers are attempting. In particular, I agree with PAR that the engineering was done by professionals, surely to high standards, and little is probably to be learned from detailed analysis of the craft itself. I respectfully take issue with his implied acceptance of ascribing accidents to human error as the end point of incident analysis. My experience has long ago led me to appreciate Prof. Nancy Leveson's insight that "human error is a symptom, not a cause."* Which leads us to the "where" and the "how."

    These two factors are interrelated. The teams are currently developing prototype and Rev 1 craft that are attempting a major shove on the edge of the performance envelope. A characteristic of such development is that one is simultaneously refining the product, educating the engineers, and training the crews. In such an activity the test program is paramount.

    The choice of the particular section of San Francisco Bay for a venue for the racing of such high performance craft may be satisfactory once the craft and crews reach Rev 2 status, but the location is a risk enhancer for the testing of prototype and Rev 1 craft at speed. Conditions are not always benign, and the test regime is proceeding under the shadow of a firm deadline. I know what it is like to be backed up against a launch window, and deal with what the rocketry crowd calls the "go disease." This is the human tendency to view risk indicators in the most positive possible light. In the case of testing on the Bay, the "go disease" is enhanced by the project risk (as opposed to safety risk) of waiting for a better day in the face of a ticking clock and capricious weather. In this way people are inclined to sail in marginal conditions: not just of wind and sea state, but of equipment status and crew proficiency as well. It is not that they are pressured internally or externally to go, it is that the "go disease" causes them not to realize how marginal the combined conditions truly are. And so a risk is accepted by default, and when the dice roll the wrong way it generally comes as a terrible surprise.

    I have seen no evidence of a project-level risk analysis or risk mitigation plan; perhaps these will come out in the upcoming inquiry. It is fairly clear from the two crashes that the nature and extent of resulting wreckage poses serious challenges to rescue teams. Divers must cope with a tangle of mylar, lines and netting, possibly interspersed with carbon fiber fragments, all floating in low-visibility water. Getting a possibly unconscious crew member out from under that without becoming a casualty yourself is a daunting prospect.

    It is, IMHO again, unlikely that sufficient refinement of craft and crew will occur in the time remaining to significantly reduce the crash probability. The level of risk to the crews will probably remain unknowable until the spectacle unfolds. For some people this is part of the thrill; I am not one of them.

    Earl

    *Her other insight that "blame is the enemy of safety" will almost certainly come into play as the post-incident events unfold.
     
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  2. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    Best post yet. Thuurs gooolllld in them thar hills.

    --
    CutOnce
     
  3. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    All the yacht clubs here use the AYF risk assessment and apply it although it’s quite simplistic. But it’s a requirement for their insurance cover that it’s both undertaken and enforced.

    There will be a fairly basic standard risk assessment used by both the racers and the committee. Supposedly the risk is shifted to acceptable by ‘Education’ but in extreme sports that just doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Part of the risk reduction strategy for inversion is the diver on the chase boat;

    It took 10 minutes to find the by then deceased. That’s the sort of issue the simplistic risk assessments don’t properly consider. The size of the craft and as you say the extent of the wreck hinders any search significantly.
     
  4. Blackburn
    Joined: May 2013
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    Blackburn Senior Member


    :rolleyes:


    Is it the case, that all engineers

    are such stubborn, mule-headed, single minded
    CRETINS...

    ... that they forever stand in the woods, and only see the undergrowth?


    lol

    It distresses me to think so, as my father and both my grandfathers were engineers,
    and sometimes I've regretted not following along...


    :wink:
     
  5. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Blackburn,

    I really don't know what you meant.
    But as an Engineer it really irritated me.

    Should I give you a wink now or what - no probably not.

    One thing to always remember, some Engineers are good, most average, some not good - much like non-Engineers.

    MikeJohns,

    Where did you get that they couldn't find "Bart"? Multiple accounts said they could see him trying to get free and dove to provide the rescure bottles, until they ran out.
    Did I miss something in a later report?
     
  6. Blackburn
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    Blackburn Senior Member

    ^^^

    Hello Upchurch,


    Just trying to drive up my negatives...

    Knew in any case that your sense of humor was prodigious.


    ;)
     
  7. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Blackburn,

    Today was a bad day, tomorrow I'll probably regret my simplistic attitude.
    No negatives from me. I never rate anybody, I just quit listening if necessary.

    You need to work harder for a negative from me. More creative and blunt!
    Probably my sense of humor is just weird
     
  8. Blackburn
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    Blackburn Senior Member

    Upchurch,


    will do my best.

    :rolleyes:
     
  9. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    The Daily mail writeup ( I'm not saying it's correct):

    [ Bart was trapped under some of the solid sections of the yacht out of view, out of sight to the myriad of people on board trying to locate him including proper divers with apparatus.All of the crews on these boats have been trained in underwater and all carried oxygen and were meant to be prepared for the worst. ]


    Regardless it was the divers on the chase boat had the buddy breathing setup and the diver apparently couldn't find him.
     
  10. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    Stodgy ……….come on Paul !
    We got to watch the tactics unfold in way we could relate to. Anyone who sailed couldn't help but get glued to the screen at times. Who didn't sit on the edge of their chair watching a tacking duel, feeling yourself the exhaustion of the grinders and watching the fantastic seamless coordination of the crew ....waiting even hoping for the one mistake that would cost the race and maybe the series. And too soon the race was over and it was a good sport to watch with sailing mates.

    What’s the equivalent now? TV coverage look like giant bill boards tearing up and down a track completing the ‘tricky’ maneuver of changing direction at the end of each leg, which all requires a terrific amount of skill but somehow the excitement we had with the "stodgy" class boats seems to me to have diminished significantly.
    As for sponsorship, The sponsor gets a bigger billboard ;-)
    I can see the appeal for the go extremely fast cohorts, they get the vicarious thrill of imaging they are aboard, or that they’ll get smaller versions and reap the research.

    But the biggest failure of all is that it's costing an order of magnitude more than it needs to and their are 4 maybe now only 3 competitors since the race continues but the deceased teammates have yet to decide whether they will carry on.

    John Bertrand said "they are just the wrong boat for the course". And I agree with that view.
     
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  11. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Ever seen a slow car race? Define slow. Racing cars are very heavily restricted and a lot slower than they could be. The fastest GP lap ever was way back in '85.

    And for some of us, faster does not equal better because making a sport appear fast is not worthwhile if if happens at the cost of making it seem more elitist and innaccessible. In the UK and Australia, which have census data on sports and strong motor racing scenes, the sport is about 30th most popular -incredibly small considering the support from the massive motor industry and vastly smaller than hiking, swimming, golf and other sports that go slowly and are accessible.

    Ever seen a slow plane race? Yep, try the extremely successful Red Bull Air Races. The planes used in that are SLOWER than the one that won the 1927 Schneider Trophy, and the Schneider planes had to drag floats along for the ride. The record holder in the Reno air race was designed before 1940.

    Ever seen an SR72 Blackbird race? Nope. They go over 8 times faster than the planes used for the Red Bull events and 4 times as fast as the fastest planes in Reno. Yet no one races them - instead they use planes from the '40s or even slower. So how is that evidence that sailing has to showcase ultimate speed?

    And if it's all about the media/sponsorship dollar then the AC seems to be in big problems - if they are struggling for TV then how much media are they going to get?

    Finally, even if it IS about media and sponsorship then that is no reason to aim for ultimate speed. The greatest annual sporting event in the world, the Tour de France, is held on gear you and I can buy, and my mother-in-law could use. The gear is enormously restricted in design and goes 2/3 as fast as unrestricted gear (although top speed is still quicker than AC72s, which sorta shows how no matter what you do to a boat it remains pretty slow from some angles) AND YET MILLIONS WATCH IT. The Olympics ratings also show that slow sports rate better.

    The facts are in - speed does not improve ratings.

    Disclaimer - my family (dad, mum, brother, wife, kids) has been sailing multis since 1966 and has had 8 or 9 of them. My last offshore season was on a shorthanded tri. I have sailed high-performance classes that regularly hit 30 knots and more up to national-team level. I personally love fast boats but that doesn't mean that the facts, such as the demonstrable facts that slow sports get lots of TV and that publicity does not mean participation, can be denied.
     
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  12. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    True, but as I pointed out in post #21 that is to protect the committee, not the sailors, i.e. the insurance is to protect the committee and host yacht club from finincial loss in case of a fatality, not change the chances of one. I was in the bay area when the race committee (and host yacht club,1982 Double Handed Farallones IIRC) got sued by suvivors of a fatal loss during a race. Cooler heads prevailed and nobody was ruined for what was essentialy not somthing under thier control. IIRC that is when the USCG stepped in and almost banned racing unless some form of risk assesment was implemented, but still, the final decision is made aboard the racing boat. There is nothing the committee can do to prevent someone from falling over the side, ramming someone in a crossing situation, or pushing thier boat too hard and having a capsize/pitchpole/mast fall on someone. How could the race committee prevented the loss of Low Speed Chase?

    Really, Earl Boebert and daquiri's F1 analogy summed it up nicely. In a no-hold-barred, maximum speed wins situation, there is nothing to prevent the crew from entering the danger space except themselves.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  13. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    It's good if it's so clear cut in the USA.

    We have a worrying trend of rulings against parties who you would not consider culpable at all. Insurance companies ere are getting jittery about personal liability claims and leisure boating activities as the ever present specter of "gold diggers" claiming trauma lurks in the background.

    What we need is an insert into our constitution to say that people have a right to consent to risk. I certainly don't think the committees should be held responsible, just that that's the way the law is heading here.

    Interestingly I've just been told that to get my personal liability insurance renewed I need a third party risk assessor complete a risk analysis on my boat !
     
  14. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    Some of the scrutiny is good. In a perfect world the widows and orphans get the fund. Do teams always play like gentlemen? For the most part yes, in part because of the public relations scrutiny.

    The freedom to make choices about risks is important. I have everyone sign a waiver who steps on board. They made a choice, I work hard to make sure it was a good one for them by trying to operate the boat in a way that minimizes their risks and the risks from other boaters.
     

  15. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Mike, I know your opinion and I'll suspect you know mine, but lets face it, sailboat racing has been always considered a blue blood thing, much like Polo and never has been a visually compelling or remotely fan attracting base, for anyone other then the likes of us. It's not my fault and I've always shaken things up on the course, but for the most part, the slow, stodgy, barely perceptible progression, of sailboats around a course isn't particularly awe inspiring, if fan generating. Hell, when curling can stay in the Olympics, but sailing can't, well it's pretty obvious isn't it. I know it hurts, but these multi's have generated some interest and now a death, some controversy, that doesn't involve a "deed of gift" or supreme court case, well, this is progress.
     
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