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Kill cords

Recent accidents show kill cords save lives

Issue date

The death of a young sailor who was struck by a support boat late last year is a pertinent reminder all RIB operators should utilise kill cords when out on the water.

A 10-year-old Optimist green fleet sailor was killed in the United States last year during a training session when he was struck by a RIB. A 6m support boat was assisting another Optimist sailor when the operator lost his footing and fell, accidentally shifting the engine into gear and throwing the man from the boat.

The unmanned powerboat then proceeded to hit several Optimists, with three sailors, including Ethan Isaacs, injured in the incident. The two other children suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An international coach was also injured when he was struck by his own boat after falling overboard during the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships in Auckland. He wasn't using a kill cord.

These incidents are timely reminders that accidents happen and that all support boat operators should use a kill cord at all times. The engine automatically cuts out when the key, which should be connected to a kill cord, is removed.

Not only is wearing a kill cord best practice, but it also saves lives.