National powerboat authority accepts recommendation of Dover coroner

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The RYA has temporarily suspended Offshore Circuit Racing (OCR) in Britain following recommendations made by Dover Coroner in an inquest into the death of a powerboat racer during Dover Regatta in August 2009.

Alex Edmonds, 41, was co-piloting a Phantom 19 during the race when his boat turned sharply into the path of another raceboat, resulting in the boat riding up over his own boat. The father of one was struck by the other boat and killed.

The suspension for the remainder of the season will affect two OCR races at Guernsey and Stewartby. The RYA said ‘Top Gun’ and match racing could continue.

John Puddifoot, the RYA’s powerboat racing manager, said: “Clearly this is an extremely serious decision and one that we have not taken lightly. We have consulted with the Chairman of the Powerboat Racing Committee and the Chair of the Offshore and Circuit Racing Committees, as well as the clubs which were organising the two remaining races of the season.

“The safety of the competitors and the long term sustainability of the sport lay at the heart of this decision. The reason for this decision arises out of concerns regarding side impact protection for drivers and navigators.”

Following the race, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency commissioned a full enquiry. It was felt that such tight circuits held dangers and that, in order to swell dwindling fleets, some competitors with an extremely low level of experience have been allowed to compete against crews with many years OCR racing under their belts.

The MCA enquiry also found that OCR hulls had little side-impact protection, leaving crews virtually exposed to serious injury from the type of collision occurring from tight cornering.

The RYA said it will continue to review the position and stressed that this temporary suspension applies only to OCR-style open boats with a crew of two.

The organisation added that a full safety review will be conducted for all classes in offshore, circuit and jetsport disciplines and that recommendations arising from this review will be incorporated into the racing rules for 2012.


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