MOB technique

Major Crewoverboard Recovery Symposium to take place in San Francisco

Tuesday July 5th 2005, Author: John Rousmaniere, Location: United States
No words chill the heart of a sailor or powerboater like “man overboard!” With the narrow margin between life and death, the recovery of someone in the water is one of the most difficult of all seamanship challenges. It’s not surprising, therefore, that new recovery equipment and techniques are in constant development. But rarely do they undergo comparative testing in public trials and the rough conditions that typically prevail when people fall over the side.

At the upcoming 2005 Crewoverboard Recovery Symposium on August 9-12 on windy San Francisco Bay, more than 60 volunteers - including amateur sailors and powerboat operators, instructors, professional sailors, and boating writers - will engage in four demanding days of testing crewoverboard gear and skills in sailboats and powerboats.
Using volunteer 'victims' in the water and a fleet of multihulls, powerboats, modern racers, and other boats, the testers will try to answer a number of crucial questions.

For example: How should a sailing trimaran or power cruiser maneuver near a victim in the water? What’s the best way to make contact with the victim? How do you hoist a victim back on deck before hypothermia sets in? Is there any chance of rescuing an unconscious victim?

The symposium’s sponsors are Modern Sailing Academy, a sailing school in Sausalito, CA, and West Marine, a boating equipment supplier based in Watsonville, CA. When MSA and West teamed up to run previous trials for sailboats during the 1990s, among their discoveries were a tactic for sailing back to the victim in strong winds without jibing plus insights about the lights that work best for effecting rescues in poor visibility.

This year’s trials will based at MSA’s facility at 2310 Marinship Way in Sausalito. Each day, participants will report by 8:30 a.m., receive their assignments, and head out for several hours of testing, followed by a debriefing at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco’s Marina District. One set of trials will be held at night.

Day-to-day management of the Crewoverboard Recovery Symposium is in the hands of a committee of five safety experts: John Connolly, Sausalito, CA (Modern Sailing Academy); Chuck Hawley, Watsonville, CA (West Marine, US Sailing safety-at-sea seminar moderator); Karen Prioleau, Newport Beach, CA (US Sailing Instructor Trainer/National Faculty, Orange Coast College instructor); John Rousmaniere, New York, NY (author The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, North U instructor); and Ruth Wood, Alexandria, VA (President, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water).

Advising them are an international steering committee and a panel of scientists who are developing a research design for the most objective possible testing. The thorough records kept of each test will include GPS tracks of maneuvers. A report will be issued after the trials.

Major support for the 2005 Crewoverboard Recovery Symposium is provided by the Bonnell Cove Foundation of the Cruising Club of America and by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, with additional support by North Sails and the Sailing Foundation of Seattle.

Potential volunteers and gear suppliers should contact For more information about the 2005 Crewoverboard Recovery Symposium, go to

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