Safety-first approach essential for Cup

May 22, 2017


The 35th America’s Cup is fast approaching, and the biggest event the island has ever hosted will bring with it an unprecedented number of boats on Bermuda’s waters.

Some 2,000 private and public craft have registered for spectator flags so they can watch the action on the Great Sound, making water safety even more important than ever.

Caution on the water will be essential, with boat owners urged to be aware of their surroundings at all times, and to proceed in a sensible manner to and from the action. Previous events around the world with large numbers of boats in a confined area, have created a washing machine effect in the water, with the swirling wake proving particularly dangerous.

There have been instances of severe injury and death, with the wake throwing people overboard when boats all attempt to leave an area at once at speed.

So, please bear the following things in mind when out on the water between May 26 and June 27.

• Life jackets: Ideally you should have one for every person onboard, at the very least every child onboard should always wear a life jacket or flotation device when boating.

• Speed Limits: Stick to these around the racecourse and coming in to Dockyard. There will be Bermuda Marine Police vessels in the area enforcing speed limits.

• Taking a dip: There is to be absolutely no swimming in spectator areas

• Drinking: Do not drink and drive. As on land, it is better to have a designated driver.

• Sun care: It will be hot and without a lot of shade on your boat you’re in the direct sun. Stay hydrated, and apply sunscreen at regular intervals.

• Watching the races: Boats will be positioned in the spectator areas according to size — small boats at the front, larger ones behind. Superyachts will be positioned in a different part of the course to avoid anchoring with much smaller boats. Official spectator boats will be carefully positioned along the course to encourage maximum safety for all.

• Wake watch: At times there will be a lot of wake, sailboats should ensure their booms are secured properly.

• Getting home: Please drive slowly. This can become the most dangerous moment of the day, when everyone tries to leave at speed and in an unorganised fashion, it creates a washing machine effect in the water; do your part to keep it smooth.

• Always stay clear of the AC50 catamarans and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup race yachts whether they are practicing or racing.

Other things to keep in mind for the next several weeks include:

• Traffic into Dockyard is regulated, call VHF channel 77 if you need fuel at Pier 41 marina

• Monitor Marina VHF channel 20 for live race commentary

• Display your spectator flag clearly

• Stay in the spectator area that corresponds to your flag

In the event of an emergency call Marine VHF 16 or 911 for immediate assistance. The Bermuda Marine Police Service will have vessels on the water throughout the event to keep the spectator fleet safe.