There is a lot of anticipation, for this weekend’s Dauphin Island Regatta. Last year, six people died, when bad weather made conditions on the water dangerous. This year, race organizers have added some safety requirements, to make sure each sailor returns to shore.
News 5 spoke to Tom Batty, the PRO (Principle Racing Officer), and Josh Murray, the chairperson for this event. Batty says they have worked with the Coast Guard to put some news safety protocols in place. First off, each sailor will be required to wear a life jacket for the first five minutes of the race. Batty says, “They (coast guard) like us to wear them continuously. Everybody should have a life jacket when they leave the dock, but people are reluctant to do that. At least when we get them on at the start, they will know where they are, and if they opt to take them off, they will know they fit.”
In addition, each boat must have one phone on board with an app called “Race Qs” downloaded. This app is a GPS, that allows them to track each boat on the course. Batty says, “When they leave the dock, we can watch where they leave, when they get to the starting line, and how they go out in the bay. We will know where they are.” The race committee is also asking each sailboat owner to turn in a detailed crew list, of exactly how many people are on the boat. Speaking of crews, the committee wants each boat captain to hold a meeting with each person on their boat to make sure each person is aware of safety procedures.
Chairman Josh Murray says the recommendations from the Coast Guard will make everyone safer, but says there is always a risk involved with sailing. “Being on the water, there is no guarantee. That is some of the risk we assume. All sailors know that. It is important we focus on moving forward with this and keeping this tradition alive. I believe the large majority of the sailors lost would feel the same way.”