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MAIB urges better protection for Clipper Round the World racers

"The Clipper Round the World Race is an adventurous activity; operating with largely amateur and some novice crews, the yachts are often required to operate in some of the most hostile weather and sea conditions on earth," said Captain Steven Clinch, chief inspector of marine accidents for Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

"However, in such circumstances, there is a practical limit to how the safety of crews can be monitored and therefore, much reliance is placed on the expertise and judgement of each boat's skipper to ensure a strong safety culture is followed by everyone on board. This places a huge responsibility on one person, given the enduring challenges presented during the Clipper Round the World Race."

Clinch's remarks were in regards to his agency's recommendation that Clipper Ventures, PLC, the organizer of the Clipper, needs to review its safety policies and procedures. The MAIB made the recommendations after two fatal accidents among race participants.

According to the BBC, 49-year-old paramedic Andrew Ashman was struck by a boom in September 2015 and died from a neck injury. Sarah Young, a 40-year-old Londoner, was washed overboard in the Pacific leg of the race last April.

Clinch acknowledged that Clipper Ventures Plc has already taken steps to address the safety issues identified in those investigations, but he said more needs to be done. He and the MAIB recommend the organization review and, as appropriate, change its yacht-manning policy to ensure that skippers are adequately supported, review and update its shore-based management procedures and, where necessary, challenge skippers to make sure everyone on board consistently adheres to safe working practices.

The race's founder and chairman said the fatal accidents "were caused primarily through momentary lapses in applying basic safety training" but welcomed the recommendations. He stressed that the race organizers follow standards "often well in excess" of guidelines promulgated by Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

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