Tuesday, June 28, 2011
It is with sadness that we share the tragedy outlined in the article below published by Scuttlebutt (http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/) on Monday June 27
In light of this tragedy it is important that all coaches, instructors, schools and clubs be reminded of the importance of safety and vigilance at all times. With many summer sailing programs commencing across Canada in the coming days, we would like to remind all parties of the importance of reviewing safety protocols and procedures on a regular basis.
With school age children on summer break and the junior programs getting cranked up, the promise of a memorable sailing season was shaken last Thursday afternoon in Annapolis, MD when fourteen-year-old Olivia Constants died during her Club 420 class out of Severn Sailing Association.
The incident occurred following a capsize near the Naval Academy, and she is said to have been underwater for several minutes. Initial news reports that her trapeze harness got tangled are not confirmed. Olivia and her skipper had just taken down the spinnaker. She was wearing a lifejacket, the winds were barely 10 knots, and veteran instructors reacted immediately and per protocol. An investigation and autopsy is underway.
Observed Amy Gross-Kehoe, veteran coach and US Sailing Youth Council Chair from Annapolis, "It has reminded me that training and procedures are important, but sometimes, are not enough. At Annapolis Yacht Club, Eastport Yacht Club and SSA, we are working hard within the community to prevent irrational fear of youth sailing as a result of this event and to avoid laying blame. This tragedy was genuinely a freak accident."
The sailing program at SSA was closed on Friday to allow for grief counseling. Olivia's memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday.