CONTRIBUTED BY KEITH COLWELL, RNLI COMMUNITY INCIDENT REDUCTION MANAGER
Photo: Rick Tomlinson
1 in 8 sailors fall overboard Does this statistic ring true to you? Bethany Hope, Editor of the RNLI’s Offshore magazine, looks at the facts behind these figures In 2015 some yacht sailing research threw up some surprising results: 1 in 8 yacht sailors has fallen overboard at some point in their lifetime. The research was commissioned by the RNLI in partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Royal Yachting Association. The RNLI knew the 1 in 8 statistic would surprise many. The charity used the statistic as part of a safety campaign to highlight the risk of man overboard to yacht sailors and increase their knowledge of how to recover someone from the water. Some yacht sailors on Facebook challenged the figure: ‘Sorry, but in my 40+ years of sailing I have not gone overboard unintentionally from a yacht – and can think of no one who has done so.’ ‘1 in 8?!!! Must be bl**dy chaos on a cruise liner!!!!’ The RNLI stands by the statistic and moved quickly to clarify that the statistic relates to experience of man overboard (MOB) during your sailing lifetime. We spoke to sailors about the research and many of them revealed that they or a friend had fallen overboard. Motivation behind the research The statistic came from a wider research project that was about more than man overboard. The three partners in the project – the RNLI, MCA and RYA – all share a desire to see sailing enjoyed safely, and aim to reduce the number of serious incidents and fatalities involving sailors in the UK. Between 2010 and 2013, 11 people died while sailing yachts around the UK coastline (RNLI analysis of the Water Incident Database 2010–13). And in 2015 RNLI lifeboat crews launched 1,579 times to sail pleasure craft. The yacht sailing study sought to examine the attitudes and behaviours of yacht sailors in the UK, and their approach to risk.