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Platino report finally out

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If any of you are looking at boom brake options, be certain to look at the Max mainsail area specs. The friction type, like that whichard, don't do large sails.

I've a video somewhere of a gybe in a blow using a dutchman, I'll see if I can find it.

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Can't say I have ever felt the need to fit a boom break or a preventer in heavy air, the wind is usually enough to hold the boom out that you have to get a long way off course before it wants to gybe.

I have fitted a preventer a few times in light stuff with a bit of a seaway running where the wind alone isn't enough to stop the weight of the boom from swinging around.

Interesting to note the open 60's that basically lap the planet on autopilot don't seem to run them. I guess with runners you don't have a "crash gybe" as such, the boat just gets pinned on it's side and parks for a while. 

I have noticed on our boat the runners are really good for controlling the boom during a gybe in heavy air.


For the tragedy on Platino, it seems to me the root cause was the autopilot failure that no-one noticed and it cascaded from there.

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open 60's don't run off very flat at all,they reach.They also use very high end AP's which are very unlikely to crash gybe, and sail fast enough so the waves don;t effect the apparent wind as much as our commonly older designs, where a surf can make you exceed wind speed. Downhill, this can back the main, and a preventer or boom brake is a great device then.

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I take your point, but surely if they were effective on these boats they if anyone would use them. 


Edit: found some images of them installed on open class boat some interesting advice at the bottom which might explain why they are not universally popular.


"IMPORTANT UPDATE: Preventers are notorious for breaking booms so should not be installed like most people do. If its a preventer you use to prevent an accidental boom gybe on a monohull , you will want to fuse it with a small line that will pop if the boom was to drag in the water otherwise you will have catastrophic failure from the water load , on multis it's different, if you drag your boom, you are in bigger problems. Either system you may use will need to attach to the boom somehow, and most attach it directly causing all the failures you hear about because of the point loading. Here is what I have been doing for years and have never had any failures because of pure mechanics . I use a very stout high tech line, either spectra/dyneema, vectran or one of the other flavors and run it along the underside of the boom from front to back. This line needs to be pre stretched to take out any sag and it is lashed tight one end to the other. Anything like a brake or preventer line is attached to this line and can be free running back and forth along the  length as it will find its true center . The brake/preventer now puts the boom in pure compression load through the tensioned line, and unless the load generated is incredibly high the boom will never break. I use a preventer line when sailing downwind (Leopard 47) to vang sheet the main to get proper leech twist. I also never sail any deeper than 150 degrees apparent as this is useless on any boat especially on a multi where you will be going slower than the wind. It is better to gybe downwind and keep the speeds up a little, it is also safer in the fact you won't round down causing an accidental gybe. Hope this helps you understand the principle. - Troy Bethel (ex professional racer)"



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Sounds like a horrible ordeal for those left on board. You have to feel for them.


Largely understandable causes - mainly a hydraulic leak from the autohelm ram eventually causing a crash gybe, which broke the traveler car loose and turned the nearly 700kg boom into a wildly swinging weapon.


It does sound as if there were some preparatory things that could have been done better, particularly setting off to sea without having done much sailing at all on the new systems post refit. Seems the main lesson to take away is to test your systems properly and actually train/prepare for mob and similar situations.


I see they mentioned the heavy hard case liferaft didn't have handles and this was a problem - most that I've come across don't and are a total nightmare to try and move around.


Also it sounds like it'll lead to cruising boats also having a requirement for advanced sea survival qualified people on board.

In aviation there is an often quoted failure model called "James Reason's Swiss Cheese" it talks about active and latent failures to quote the Wikipedia article....


"The model includes both active and latent failures. Active failures encompass the unsafe acts that can be directly linked to an accident, such as (in the case of aircraft accidents) a navigation error. Latent failures include contributory factors that may lie dormant for days, weeks, or months until they contribute to the accident. Latent failures span the first three domains of failure in Reason's model.[5]"


the link is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_cheese_model

After building a simple 29 ft gulf cruiser many years ago, I thought she was perfect on the launch day. The reality was it took me 2 seasons to fine tune and debug the systems basically making everything reliable. , this was a simple boat.


By that stage I felt I could take long coastal cruises with my family in safety. Knowing the boat   I could usually (but not always)  sense something wasn't right before a failure. Also for the most part I could fix it or jury rig something and continue the trip.


I would be interested to hear of other members comments on this, how long did it take you to get to know your boat , its capabilities, vices, how it handled heavy weather, how various systems functioned and the level of reliability could you fix it yourself ? etc.

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Well I'm amazed that not only the MNZ report but everyone commenting on the forum seem to have missed the one key thing which could and should have prevented this accident.


TRYSAIL TRYSAIL TRYSAIL !!!!!!!!!! There is a reason trysails do not have a boom. This accident is the reason. Sadly in recent years trysails have fallen out of fashion but they are still as essential for downwind offshore sailing as they always were.


In the conditions described (downwind in 48 knots) there is absolutely no way that a large boom should have been in use at all. A preventer is not a solution no matter how good it is. It would be highly unlikely to be strong enough and if it did work then you'd end up with the mainsail aback and likely ripped in half.



With all the meteorological info they had the conditions cannot have been a surprise. The boom end should have been dropped and lashed down on deck and the trysail in use long before the 48 knot gusts were encountered.



Did they even have a trysail? If not, how the hell did they get through a cat 1 inspection?

Any yacht going offshore should practice hoisting the trysail immediately before departure with all crew present.


If they didn't have a trysail (and the cat 1 inspector should certainly have required one on a vessel of this size) then the jib alone would have been enough sail in the conditions and the yacht would have been easier to steer with the sail area well forward.


The one big mistake here was that the mainsail and boom were in use at all.




I think the MNZ report should have taken a long hard look at the cat 1 inspector's involvement, assuming they didn't insist on a trysail, why not? To me, the fact that the main was in use at all is the "single point of failure" in this chain of events. Autopilots fail, preventers break, even mainsheets break. None of those things would be a disaster if you have a safe, controllable rig which is suitable for the conditions even if something breaks.





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To answer Frank. We had this discussion last week. At 5 years multiple coastal trips and a Fiji and return I feel I am just approaching the level of knowledge of this boat that I would like. Also most of the changes I have made have added extra levels of redundancy.

Also agree with Obama- can't understand why the main was up. Ours is down in 25 kn.

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"IMPORTANT UPDATE: Preventers are notorious for breaking booms so should not be installed like most people do.

Total agree.

Don't prevent, that's asking for trouble in many ways. In a big wipe out you do lose control of your boom/sail.

Control the boom and sail at all times, it's far safer.



25knts, hell no, that's in the fun zone. Maybe chuck in a slab but no more.

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I’d have had no main at all, just headsail, but conditions is this event were mid 30’s not 48 knots. Iirc that was the max gust the instruments saw across the deck, and remember she did turn to weather according to the track.

Preventers can break the boom, yep.

That’s why I prefer a boom brake. (Not a boom break as some have posted above, but perhaps that was intended?)

Yet the maritime NZ report makes no comment about the sail set, the issue of strong preventers causing boom to hit the water, etc etc.

I hope that YNZ have this conversation with them before blindly changing the rules, but I’m not convinced this will happen.

Finally, trysails. Yes I have one. On a seperate track, in a bag at the mast foot, ready. The rules state a trisail or a main with a set percentage deep reef, iirc.

I’ve only used the trisail when attempting to get to weather in a blow, or heaving to. Never down wind, as I’m trying to keep the centre of effort as far forwards as possible to aid steering.

Oh, and Frank, I’ve had my boat 18 years, and I’m still learning! But I do know the systems, and where every nut bolt screw and cable is, which is a great benefit if there are issues. This is why delivery voyages are typically more dangerous as the boat is new and often unknown.

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Got to read the report yesterday (quiet Sunday in Tonga) As always some good take home messages. We have activated our MOB on the plotter this morning, and got the epirb out and done a test (and both agree on how to activate it for real)

Lots of other good thinking through our processes too-obviously we need to get some more stuff down in writing. It is back to good planning. Most of us probably guilty of getting a bit slack at times and not practicing stuff. I do think though too much focus goes on recovering MOB. Everything must be about NEVER going in to start with. Also, you can buy all the safety shite in the world, and fill your boat up with all the gadgets you like- but it won't be worth a knob of elephant sh*t, if you don't know how to use it.


The report highlights how dangerous big boats are when things go wrong. Makes us pleased to be on our wee 34 footer with smaller loads.

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Bigger boats bigger loads. It realy is a case by case scenario and the swis cheese motto. Some people dont have a boom at all. 


On Platino the boom would have been quite high and not as long as a Ross 40 and wouldnt have probably not hit the water if you heel over too far. Platino issue is the travel car broke loos when they crash gybed I believe and this could have been prevented by the boom brake or a stronger pereventor. Everyone makes mistakes and crash gybing happens to everyone including Volvo ocean crews and opti kids. Risk of crash gybing can not be eliminated.


I have sailed on a Ros 40 AK to Tauranga and we had a few death rolls and chinese gybes near Channel Island. Too much main yes, lots of wind against large swell yes, scary yes, do it again yes. A boom brake might have been nice.


On Pzaz a large CAT1 cruising catamaran the traveler is well out the way on the stern, no problem with the boom, very high. We were made to put an extra deep reef in the main by the inspector.  We used this reef at times albeit we slowed down to a snail pace. I was happy that the inspector made us do this. I wouldnt climb on top of that boom high up and try and fit a try sail, rather go bare pole.


I have a enormous amount of respect for inspector that I have come accross.

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Now I've got over the time it took to write the report,( thanks for the insight regarding the legal issues).  Its still such a sad happening even  now in retrospect, just terrible for all concerned.



 Its always the gybe isn't it. Witness the recent RTW.


 Every boat has its idiosyncracies but getting the mainsheet and traveller out of the cockpit on a cruising boat is well worth noting. This is from someone who has had 2 near misses on other peoples boats.


I'm happy with preventing our short boom mainsail ( which has its traveller  on the cabintop incidentally)   and like Willow  has pasted in his post,  it attaches to what I call spans, ( old classics here will know what I mean).

 A gaff span is basically a bridle  to spread the load over a spar ( a gaff in that case) but the same applies to a boom, it spreads the load particularly away from the vang area  where most booms break.

 I'm not averse to a boom brake either.


 But the other giant issue and I know it has been alluded to earlier , and in the interests of a reminder for all us , is that of the untried and untested boat going off to sea after a major refit where many of the systems were changed. I'm sure we all understand why  and how that has happened but thats the stand out for me .

It reinforces to me that  sailing the heck of your boat so you understand all its systems and foibles before you head off ,is imperative.

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So a fairly tedious video, but what he is saying (other than promoting his little website blog thingee) is that because of the Platino incident, MNZ / YNZ are introducing more CAT 1 requirements, specifically:

1) requirement for sea survival courses / certificates

2) requirement that each boat have a safety manual


He points out that all crew on the Platino had sea survival certificates, and he states that neither of these two new regulations would have made any difference to the outcomes on the Platino.


He goes on to argue that increased regulations and governmental over-reach is bad for sailing and the marine industries around it, including the NZ based yachting industry, and boats / crew wanting to sail to the islands, and the various islands tourism dollar / revenue from visiting yachties.


He also puts that the structural changes to the mainsheet / traveler were the route cause. It used to be on an arch, they moved it to right in-front of the wheel...MNZ did not question this, but now compulsory require crew to have the certificates all of the Platino crew had (the certificates that didn't help...)


Hard to disagree with him in substance. Pieces of paper (safety manuals / certificates) don't protect you from anything.

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Thanks for summary Fish. I appreciate it because I'm a bit pressed for time (I'm back at uni as a mature age student and it's hard work keeping up with the young ones).


Anyway I wanted to say I disagree about safety manuals. First and foremost they can create a better safety culture; Platino shows we need that. Second, they also create a line of command so that everyone on board knows what their role is. Third, they create a legal framework (Duty of Care).


I'm reminded of the old days when people resisted safety improvements like the Plimsoll Line.

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