January 16, 2019
Dear Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Sailors, Sponsor and Families,
Registration for the 2019 race is now open on the race website at www.bycmack.com.
This year will be the 95th running of the RACE. Just 5 years to go until the 100th anniversary of the “Bayview Mackinac Race” which is expected to draw close to 300 boats.
In anticipation of this year’s race and races to follow, I will address the very important topic of PFD’s, “Personal flotation Devices.” With the tragic accident that occurred in the 2018 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, where a racing sailor drowned, it was revealed their PFD FAILED to inflate. I thought it would be a good time to review Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Safety Equipment Requirements, which are published on the race website (www.bycmack.com). Please pay particular attention to Section 3 – Required Safety Equipment and Section 3.1 – Personal Safety Equipment
The bottom line is that each person sailing in the Race MUST have a United States Coast Guard approved and/or certified Personal Flotation Device. “If you do not wear the PFD and prescribed attachments it cannot save you!!”
There are a few people that have purchased fancy offshore equipment that is NOT United States Coast Guard approved. Before you purchase any gear become familiar with it before you buy it.
I brought this up to a marine store owner and they suggested that you may have to have 2 pieces of gear to make sure the boat complies. Who wants to be the person that disqualifies a winning boat that FAILED inspection? Ouch.
Once you have your equipment, make sure it works! When you have some free time this winter, put on your gear, jump in a pool and see what happens. See what it’s like to swim or better yet try to get onto a raft or climb out of the pool with the gear on with an inflated PFD. The experience is well worth the time. I have heard from those who participated in the 2-day US Sailing Offshore Safety at Sea Course hosted by BYC-DYC in April of this year, that the most “eye opening” experience they had was the hands-on experience. Many were surprised how difficult it was to move around in the water with full gear and an inflated PFD. Some PFDs didn’t inflate upon entering the water.
I encourage you to visit the US Sailing website (www.ussailing.org) and under the Education header you will find information on the Safety at Sea Courses. At a minimum, sign-up for the online one-day Safety at Sea Course. The second day Hands-on Course can be completed in conjunction with the online course. Dates and locations for all 2019 US Sailing Safety at Sea Courses are provided and updated as courses are added. So needless to say “Your families and your loved ones want all of you to come home SAFE.”
Robert Nutter, Chair, 2019 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race