Safety Guidelines and Rendering Assistance (rev. 5/02/19)


A. The Racing Rules of Sailing (ISAF/US Sailing rule 1.1) clearly states that "A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger." This is reinforced by SOLAS Convention Chapter V, Regulation 33.

B. Nevertheless, several events of "Man Overboard" (in some cases multiple MOB) have occurred in the past where nearby boats failed to render any assistance or rendered inadequate assistance. The Storm Trysail Club (STC) hereby offers its view of "rendering assistance."

C. At all STC events, the following "Guideline for Rendering Assistance" will be referenced. Boats and their owners (and skippers, if different) who in STC's opinion violate this Guideline (and thereby rule 1) may be disqualified from the race, a series, and possibly future STC events. STC advises every competitor to familiarize themselves with this Guideline and act in accordance. If a competitor witnesses a violation rule 1, they should protest.


1. Distress Situations include, but are not limited to:

a) Man Overboard;
b) Fire;
c) Collision with serious injury or risk of sinking;
d) Dismasting with serious injury, risk of sinking or immediate grounding;
e) Grounding with risk of sinking;
f) Crew injury or life-threatening illness.

2. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the nearest boat or boats to a Distress Situation shall immediately cease racing and render assistance, or standby as the situation warrants. If there is any doubt as to whether a boat should assist, or keep racing, she should err on the side of safety and assist. Use of auxiliary power is permitted.

3. Boats assisting shall endeavor to establish radio and/or cellphone communication with the Race Committee and assist with communications, including a Distress Call, as necessary. Such communications shall continue until the Distress Situation is resolved.

4. In a MOB situation, an Assisting Boat shall immediately endeavor to get flotation to the MOB(s) if necessary and execute a pick-up unless another vessel (including the MOB boat) is in a more favorable position. Assisting Boat(s) shall not leave the scene until all MOB are safely on deck of an Assisting Vessel or the MOB vessel. If the Assisting Boat makes the pickup and determines that it is unsafe to transfer the MOB back to their boat, the Assisting Boat may resume racing with the MOB aboard provided that there is no health risk to the MOB.

5. When an Assisting Boat has completed its duty at the scene of a Distress Situation, she may resume racing and apply for Redress. If she has experienced extensive delay, deviation, or damage she may abandon the race and request Redress. As a Guideline only, a fifteen-minute delay in a one-hour short course race would suggest retiring from the race, whereas five minutes would suggest resuming the race.

Recommended Training Practices

When preparing the boat for an upcoming event, it is important to prepare the crew as a team.

STC recommends:

1) that at least two-thirds of the boat's racing crew, including the person in charge and alternate watch captain (when appropriate) should together practice man-overboard procedures appropriate for the boat's size and speed;

2) that the practice should consist of marking and returning to a position on the water, both under power and under sail, and demonstrating a method of hoisting a crewmember back on deck, or other consistent means of re-boarding the crewmember;

3) that the practice should include upwind quick-stop, downwind quick-stop in light/medium wind, and downwind (non-quick-stop douse, such as a “letterbox drop”) in medium/heavy air; and

4) that there be a pre-race safety briefing of the full crew, including location of safety gear and fire extinguishers, how to manually inflate a PFD and access the oral inflation tube, use of PFD and tethers, and a re-briefing on man overboard recovery.

Recommended Personal Safety Practices

The STC recommends that a combined harness and lifejacket/PFD be worn on deck:

a) between the hours of sunset and sunrise-together with a waterproof flashlight;
b) when alone;
c) when reefed;
d) when the true wind speed is 25 knots or more;
e) when visibility is less than 1 NM;
f) when the water temperature is less than 60° F/16° C.
Suggestions for improvement of this Guideline are encouraged and welcome.

Click HERE for a downloadable PDF of the above guidelines