Accidental gybes on yachts Sunsail 8 and Sunsail 20 with 2 people injured

Location: The Solent, off the south coast of England.

Completed PE Summary: Sunsail 8 and 20

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Recreational Vessel/Accident Details
Registered Owner and Manager Sunsail
Flag UK
Type Sailing yacht
Built 2005
Length Overall 10.93m
Gross Tonnage 10.96
Location of Incident Coastal waters
Incident Type Accident to Person
Persons Onboard 8 crew
Injuries/Fatalities 1 injured crew


Two sailors were seriously injured in very similar accidents which occurred on identical yachts within a few days of one another and within a few miles of one another, in Solent waters.

In both cases the yachts were sailing in strong winds with reefed mainsails and the fact that the yachts were about to gybe was clearly advised to all on board. As the vessels gybed the injured persons were struck by the fine tuning block, which forms part of the falls of the main sheets.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the RYA and to the chartering company recommending that:

  • The RYA promulgates details of these accidents and emphasises the need for skippers to brief their crew on all the hazards associated with the normal operation of the boat

  • RYA instructors highlight the lessons learnt from these accidents to ensure crew members are aware of all the potential hazards when gybing.

  • The chartering company should ensure that the brief given to crews at the start of a charter includes reference to these accidents as appropriate to ensure that the crew is fully aware of the particular hazards of each class of yacht

  • The chartering company should take into account the fact that the crew may not have sailed together before and ensure that they have time to become familiar with the yacht before the charter commences

Published 23 January 2015