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Yacht Racing - Accidents To Sails, Spars, Rigging, Or Crew

( Originally Published 1911 )

THE accidents that happen to the racing boat should be few, if the boat is properly tuned up and every-thing tested out thoroughly and replaced when worn. However, no matter how careful a person may be, accidents are sure to happen once in awhile. If you tear a sail, say the mainsail, by having one of the reef points catch, keep on if you are leading until the sail goes ; the chances are that it will not do any-thing more than worry you. If you tear a spinnaker all to pieces on the first round of a course, set another. Here the carrying of a second sail is invaluable.

If you lose a mast, there is nothing for it but to quit ; also a boom or gaff. But two spinnaker poles should be carried in important races, as they are very apt to be broken, being small and thrown around a great deal.

The rigging, if it is not a main shroud, or bobstay, can usually be repaired. For in-stance, if your headstay goes, and your mast still stands, take a piece of the anchor cable and tie to the wirestay with a square knot, then with one of your preventers, or extra halliards, set the mast forward and tie it to the stem or bowsprit. If this cannot be done, lead forward one of the halliards, both ends being tied down to the stem.

If you lose a jib or peak halliard, use the balloon jib halliard, or spinnaker halliard, if there is any chance of their standing the strain. Always carry extra blocks and tackles to replace anything of this sort.

If a main shroud goes, tack your boat immediately so as to bring the strain on the other; this will give you a chance to fix up the parted one. Tie a loop, if you can reach the upper broken end, and hook in a watch tackle, hooking the other end into the chain plate, and set up.

If you lose a peak halliard block, set up on another halliard, and trust to luck the other block will carry the strain. If a throat halliard goes, hook in the spinnaker halliard and hoist away. Do not set up a single part too taut. If you break a tiller, and have not an oar on board to steer with, while you are mending it take out one of the floor boards, and if it is long enough, steer over the lee side with it ; if it is short, lash it to your spinnaker boom jaws and steer with the pole.

If you lose a bowsprit, and have an eye on the stem head, hook your headstay in there temporarily, or on the bitts. If you have neither of these devices, pass a loop well down over the forward overhang, bringing the ends together at the center of the deck and hitch your headstay there. There are, of course, many other makeshift devices.

If one of your crew falls overboard, throw him a life-preserver, or whatever there is within reach that will be of any use. Then tack and pick him up. Do not trust to some-body else to get him, no matter how good a swimmer he may be ; get him aboard as soon as possible, as a life is of much more value than a win.

In case a squall comes up, watch the boats to windward of you and see how they are faring in it; have your halliards ready, so that you can lower away at the last moment. After you have felt it, and seen the magnitude of it, get your sails on her again if possible. Have your compass handy, so that in the rain and mist you will not lose your direction.

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