(This is an excerpt from one of the few editorials Uncle Al has ever produced. It is a shortened version of page 2 of the December 2000 Whiffle. Having pontificated on this matter, I felt I should do something positive - such as an article on how to recover from a capsize without the need of a rescue boat, and on how to help those in distress.)
Uncle Al’s Corner

Greetings again! This is the “racers’ Whiffle” - a monster issue - as I attempt to capture some of the great, exciting times which the summer of 2000 has brought us on the race course... 

Are we being safety conscious enough???
There was some talk that our Around-the-Island Race, held out of TSCC in mid-September, in NW winds of 10-20 knots, should not have proceeded since we had fewer than the number of safety boats recommended by the CYA for a 25-dinghy fleet. It is the editor’s experience that we rarely get the ideally recommended safety boat contingent. This leaves us with the choice of refusing to race or taking what we can get. I for one, will take what I can get and keep racing!
I would suggest however that we ask our various hosts to clarify the safety boat situation before each day’s racing so that all competitors can make their own decision (RRS 4) as to whether or not they want to race. I believe we do an admirable job of trying to make our racing fun, even for the beginners, but there will be times when we race in conditions that are simply too much for some sailors. If that is the case, our response must not be to cancel, since those who thrive when the going gets tough have their rights as well!

There is no shame in sitting out conditions that seem too threatening - Peter Rahn sat out a race of the ‘95 Worlds when he felt the winds were too much for his young crew. Generally speaking, no sailor should go out if he or she is not fairly confident that in case of a capsize, self-rescue can be effected. Rescue boats are - or should be - more for damaged boats or sailors!

One other safety resource that we tend to overlook and under-utilize is self-help! 

Rule 1.1, the very first rule in the Racing Rules of Sailing states:

A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.

What this means is that any of us needs to investigate carefully, any boat that is capsized within a reasonable distance, and not already being assisted. If there is any suspicion that these sailors need help, we are expected to put their rescue before our race. The rules provide for redress (RRS 62) in such situations. 

In so many words - we are our own rescue boats!!

Best wishes for a safe and happy 2001 from

Uncle Al (W3854)
Actual Capsize Photos with critique
A Case in Point and Resulting Recommendations
Assisting Others as per Rule 1.1
W.I.T. home page