Official Notice Board

24/May/2022 @ 04:58PM EST

MOB Cold Water Shock & Hypothermia -

Greetings Race Week Participants,

The June 2022 issue of Pacific Yachting magazine includes a piece written by Marianne Scott titled, Cold Water Shock & Hypothermia that is excellent. Please take a moment to read this article, and share it with your crew. Below is a paragraph extracted from the piece that speaks volumes as to why it is critically important that skippers and crews understand cold shock, and why a person's survival depends on the first 60 seconds after falling overboard. Having a fleet of first responders on the course will not matter if the skipper and crew are not equipped to handle the first 60 seconds while waiting for help and support to arrive.


In the Essentials of Sea Survival, co-author Michael Tipton writes, "If you are lucky enough to survive long enough to die of hypothermia, you have done very well; most die in the first minute of immersion." Many search-and-rescue and Coast Guard personnel teaching classes on water safety use that phrase.

Why do people die in the first minute of immersion? When hitting cold water, your blood vessels contract (vasoconstriction) and you hyperventilate. This gulping of air is instinctive - it's something not easily stopped. It's called cold water shock. If you slide underwater while experiencing it, you suck in water and drown. Cold shock can also raise blood pressure significantly so for those with heart trouble or high blood pressure, this sudden stress can lead to a fatal heart attack. Especially if you've forgotten to don your PFD.

To read the complete article, click the link below which takes you to the digital version of the June 2022 issue of Pacific Yachting magazine, and scroll to page 56.

Given the reality of cold shock, please discuss your MOB reaction plan as a crew prior to leaving the dock. As the attached Emergency Action Plan spells out, at Race Week, a crew member will want to immediately hail the Race Committee on Channel 72, all the while other crew members are working to stop the boat by sailing head to wind, and others are cutting away any lines that may be tangled around the legs of a MOB to prevent them from dragging through the water. 

In memoriam to competitor Gregory Paul Mueller (1963-2021) who died at Race Week in 2021 after falling overboard during a race. After a complete autopsy was completed, the cause of death was listed as, 'Accidental Drowning'.

Thank you in advance for your preparedness and seamanship at Race Week.

Schelleen Rathkopf (OA)



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