On 13 May 2015 a Vector V40R powerboat hooked, inverted and made contact with a navigation buoy near the entrance to the River Hamble, Southampton Water. One of the occupants was seriously injured and the other 3 required hospitalisation.
The boat, a 13m offshore racing powerboat, was undertaking an engine performance test run on Southampton water. The boat had reached a maximum speed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour) during the test and was being returned to the Hamble when the accident occurred.
Three of the occupants escaped from the upturned boat but one, the driver’s son, was knocked unconscious inside the cockpit. The driver dived back under the boat and brought his son to the surface, where he was resuscitated.
No written risk assessment for the test had been undertaken and the control measures for the test were insufficient in that:
No notice of the intended high speed test had been given to the relevant harbour authority (ABP Southampton).
None of the crew were wearing seatbelt harnesses or helmets, although this equipment was readily available as its use was mandatory when the boat was participating in organised racing events.
During the test run the offshore powerboat was operated at a speed of 100mph while the occupants were not wearing their seatbelts or safety helmets.
The driver lost control of the boat causing it to hook and invert while making a turn at high speed.
In order to safeguard all on board, there is a need for training and personal safety requirements of the race rules to be applied to all racing powerboats involved in or preparing for organised racing events, including tests, and whenever inexperienced crew or passengers are carried.
No prior notification was given to the harbour authority regarding the intention to undertake the high speed test.
Had there been an enforceable speed limit in Southampton Water the likelihood of this accident occurring would have been reduced.
Had the harbour authority’s requirements for the laying and marking of fishing gear in Southampton Water been complied with, the markers might have been seen and recognised at an earlier stage, and the accident avoided.
Recommendation 2016/105 has been made to the vessel’s owners to ensure that appropriate safety requirements are applied in future whenever the vessel is driven at planing speed.