Helping sailors stay safe on the water

May 6, 2017

Being prepared for every eventuality is a crucial part of an America’s Cup team’s training, and while none of the six teams getting ready for the 35th America’s Cup plan on crashing should they do so they know Bermuda’s finest will be there to help them.

Each team has at least one trained paramedic in their chase boat, and for SoftBank Team Japan that means taking Bermudians Philip Woods, a registered advanced EMT, and Jermaine DeSilva, a paramedic, along for the ride any time they go out on to the water.

“My job is to make sure I am there for any medical situations that arise, and to support Sam Bennett, the safety diver, in any incident,” Mr DeSilva said.

The speeds of the America’s Cup Class boats means that Mr DeSilva has to keep a constant watch on what is happening as things can happen in an instant. In an emergency situation reaction time is everything.

“There are times when the conditions change with the water and the weather, so it can get a little rough,” Mr DeSilva said. “Sometimes a sailor can be thrown off unexpectedly through a particular manoeuvre, so, it is always important for me to keep a constant visual with the boat so that I always see six sailors on board, and that if anything does happen I am in a position to respond.”

Mr Woods added: “Basically we cover them on the water because it can become pretty serious pretty quickly out there.”

At Artemis Racing, a team who experienced their own fair share of on-water drama during the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the paramedic role falls to Dave Dupperreault, who has worked with the team for the past year and a half.

“My main role is to provide emergency on-water medical support for when they’re sailing and training, be that at regattas, or out on the Sound,” Mr Dupperreault said. “I go out on the chase boats with everybody and make sure everybody stays safe.”