The Fastnet 2015 campaign has officially started! Budding crew assembled for the ISAF / RYA Offshore safety training last weekend and were duly thrown straight into a swimming pool! The two day course covers a range of topics all focused on remaining safe at sea and, in the event of disaster, how to survive in extreme conditions. You could argue it’s not the most upbeat of courses, however one’s first experience of launching, righting and getting into a liferaft is better done in the controlled conditions of a pool rather than trying to read the instructions in a storm halfway across the Celtic Sea.
Whilst some time was spent doing practical sessions, a lot of time was in the classroom learning about ISAF offshore regulations and talking about various scenarios and what we might do faced with a particular issue. Students were split into small groups and asked to discuss each scenario presented and what we’d do in that given situation. Broken into immediate and long term actions, decisions were made as a group with the ultimate question; Would you carry on racing given the problem faced?
What would you do faced with a broken mast, 250nm short of the finish line in Falmouth and a steady southwesterly blowing you straight there?
There was lots of debate about this and the main lesson people came away from this was just how hard it is to actually cut away a rig. Doing these sorts of things in the classroom is hard enough so multiply it by the complexity of being out sea and you start to get a feel for what people really face. In just about every case, prevention is definitely better than cure!
I’ve done this course before and whilst I didn’t need to do it for another couple of years as my certificate is still in date, I think it’s a great course to do with the whole crew of a particular campaign as it gets you all thinking together. The RORC regulations for crew doing the training are for 30% of the crew (and no less than 2) to have completed the course. Again, my view is it’s a great way to start some of that team bonding that’s important for any offshore race crew to campaign successfully together.