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Race tragedy alters safety procedures

Jan 1, 2003

In response to December's Sydney-to-Hobart regatta tragedy, which claimed the lives of six people, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) has significantly changed safety procedures for those competing in the Sydney to Gold Coast race, which starts on July 31.

The following changes have been adopted:

Insurance: Each competing yacht will be required to carry $10 million public liability insurance, in line with the Sydney-to-Hobart and Sydney-to-Mooloolaba races.

Radio: In addition to providing a radio compliance certificate, each yacht will be required to make a pre-race check with Penta Comstat, an Australia-based marine communications company, to verify the strength and clarity of the signal.

Safety checks: All yachts, regardless of when they had their category 2 safety inspection, will be subject to spot checks, made by Yachting Association of NSW safety inspectors. Crew lists: Each competing yacht must submit a more comprehensive crew list with complete details of next of kin, plus a nominated crew contact, with details of their availability for contact by race officials during the race if necessary.

Storm sails: All competing yachts must hoist their storm trysail and storm jib, with correct sail numbers, in view of race officials before the race startindicating that they correctly fit the boat and that the crew is competent in hoisting storm sails.

Weather briefing: The weather briefing will be compulsory for skipper and navigator and will cover the weather for the day of the start only. On the morning of the race, however, each yacht will be issued with a special weather pack for the rest of the race. The forecast will include a specific explanation of the "real" winds being predicted.

Search and rescue: In addition to the general race and weather briefing, competitors will receive a special briefing on search-and-rescue operations, including procedures when being rescued by helicopter.

According to the CYCA, each yacht competing in the 1999 and future Sydney-to-Hobart races must have at least one crewmember holding a first aid certificate.