CCA Safety Seminar Targets Racers, Delivery Crews, Cruisers

January 1, 2016

By John Rousmaniere

The March 19-20 Safety at Sea Seminar at Newport RI will provide valuable advice and information for all who race to Bermuda, sail in a return voyage, or cruise or race in any waters. Organized by the Cruising Club of America, the US Sailing-sanctioned seminar will be at the Marriott Hotel, a new home for this widely respected biennial safety event.

Larry Huntington, here at the helm of Snow Lion in in the 2015 Transatlantic Race, will present on heavy weather sailing. (Stephen Lirakis)
Larry Huntington, here at the helm of Snow Lion in in the 2015 Transatlantic Race, has done 23 Bermuda Races and will present on heavy weather. (Stephen Lirakis)

Presented by sailors who combine extensive offshore experience with specialized knowledge, the topics include heavy weather, safety equipment, medical issues, calling for help, the Gulf Stream, damage control, boat and crew preparation, lessons learned from accidents, man overboard, and the Bermuda Race's regulations.

Newport Bermuda Race seminar rule: “A minimum of 30% of all crew members shall have attended a US Sailing-sanctioned safety at sea seminar within five years of the start of the race. The captain and either the navigator or a watch captain must be included in the required 30%.” This requirement is satisfied by attending the all-day Saturday Seminar. In addition, two crew members must hold current First Aid/CPR certificates.

All-Day Saturday Seminar Presenters and Topics

Moderator Bruce Brown demonstrates a life raft at a safety seminar.(Rousmaniere)
Bruce Brown demonstrates a life raft at a safety seminar at Newport Beach CA.  (John Rousmaniere)

Moderator Bruce Brown (MOB, rescue at sea, ethics of giving assistance, damage control, hands-on), is a West Coast  sailor and veteran safety seminar presenter and moderator. This will be his first CCA safety seminar. Bruce tests safety equipment, is a trainer for the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, and chaired US Sailing’s review of the fatal accident in the 2012 Ensenada Race. “If I could only expect one takeaway from this seminar,” he has said, “it would be to share the knowledge each attendee gains with everyone on board. If we can create a safety ethos where safety is a consideration in every decision made on the water, we will end up with fewer accidents and a better sport.”

Frank Bohlen (marine weather, sea state), a professional oceanographer, has sailed 18 Bermuda Races, often as navigator. He writes the race website’s Gulf Stream tutorial and the race program’s article on the Stream, weather, and race strategy. Frank conducts pre-race weather briefings and, after the race, debriefs winning crews at the Navigators Forum at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Sign up soon for hands-on in-water training, a popular safety seminar topic. (Rousmaniere)
Sign up soon for hands-on in-water training, a popular safety seminar topic. (John Rousmaniere)

Larry Huntington (heavy weather) has experienced hard going in 23 Bermuda Races and many East Coast, Transatlantic, and Fastnet races in the Carinas and his own boats, including Snow Lion and 1990 Newport Bermuda Race winner Denali. He has said, “If the preparation is as good as you can get it, then your mind’s free so you can think about the race, and shortening sail is not a safety question but a boat speed question.”

Will Keene (damage control), president of Edson International, has presented at many safety seminars about the use, care, and maintenance of steering systems, bilge pumps, and other equipment.

Christopher McNally (offshore communications) chairs the Newport Bermuda Race Fleet Communications Office, which continuously monitors competitors’ radio and other transmissions from before the start to the last finish.

Henry Marx (personal safety equipment, life rafts) heads Landfall Navigation and is a regular safety seminar presenter.

Karen Prioleau (here sailing in her home waters off Catalina Island) has sailed numerous long voyages in the Pacific as capyaon of the sail training yacht Alaska Eagle. (Paul Prioleau)
Karen Prioleau (here in her home waters off Catalina Island) has commanded the sail training yacht Alaska Eagle on long voyages in the Pacific. (Paul Prioleau)

Karen Prioleau (crew preparation and training, hands-on), a member of the Cruising Club of America’s Southern California Station, has sailed many thousands of miles offshore, including a Bermuda delivery. Besides presenting at safety seminars, she organized the International Crew Overboard Symposium on San Francisco Bay, chairs the Keelboat Committee on US Sailing’s National Faculty, and teaches in Orange Coast College’s Mariner Program. “It’s not a matter of if you will have some ‘excitement’ while boating,” she has said. “It’s a matter of when. Hands-on training helps you make the wrong go right.” This is Karen’s first CCA safety seminar.

John Rousmaniere (lessons learned from recent incidents), the race’s Media Chair, has conducted reviews of accidents, sailed nine Bermuda Races and 13 deliveries, tested safety equipment, and presented at and moderated many safety seminars.

Ron Trossbach (changes in offshore regulations, Bermuda Race safety regulations, new safety equipment) is the Newport Bermuda Race’s Safety Officer. He has edited safety and other rules, held the Vanderstar Sailing Chair at the US Naval Academy, and  organized, moderated, and presented at safety seminars.

Dr. Jeff Wisch (seasickness, dehydration, and hypothermia and their effects on seamanship; Sunday Medical Seminar) is the race’s Medical Chair. He writes the race program’s seasickness article and has sailed his boat, Wischbone, in several Bermuda Races.

Emergency signaling will be a topic for hands-n training. (BoatUS)
Emergency signaling will be a topic for hands-on training. (BoatUS)

Seminar Chairs Garry and Leslie Schneider have cruised widely in their Mason 43 cutter Rising Wind and helped organize many CCA Safety Seminars. Like most of the seminar's presenters, they are members of the Cruising Club of America.

The Saturday Offshore Personal Survival Refresher allows attendees to renew hands-on survival course certification by World Sailing (the new name for ISAF) and acquire their certificate in one day. Refresher Course participants will attend the Saturday morning safety seminar session before being transported to an afternoon session in a swimming pool. Certificates are valid for five years. (An online training option may be available to allow sailors to test their knowledge and qualify for the Refresher.)

Sunday Programs

Sunday Practical Hands-On Training. Combined with the all-day Saturday Seminar, this yields the World Sailing Offshore Personal Survival Course certificate, which is highly recommended for the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race (and required for other races). Certification includes hands-on training in a swimming pool, where attendees will gain knowledge in the use of life rafts, boarding, and righting skills. Bring your inflatable PFD and offshore clothing. Flares and fire-fighting skills will also be covered.

Sunday morning, Newport Bermuda Race Preparation Seminar.  Aimed at sailors planning to participate in the 50th Bermuda Race in 2016, and moderated by Bjorn Johnson, the seminar will include a discussion of the race and its prize structure led by Jim Teeters, from the race’s Technical Committee. Other speakers will present on the Gulf Stream, boat preparation, sail selection, and developing a pre-race strategy. A Q&A session will follow. For more information on this seminar, go here.

Sunday morning, Medical Seminar. Dr. Jeff Wisch (Bermuda Race Medical Chair) and Dr. Barbara Masser (ER doctor and Bermuda Race consulting physician) will focus on the duties of the boat’s medical officer and the unexpected accidents and events this person may face. Scenarios will be presented to allow attendees to discuss their options as they interact with “medical control.” For more information on this seminar, go here.

Space is limited.  Register here for the CCA Safety at Sea Seminar, March 19-20

Questions regarding the seminar:  safety [email protected]

For more information about the Newport Bermuda Race, click on this brief description on the race website (

The Cruising Club of America views safety at sea as an important part of its mission and encourages sailors to access articles written by members and posted on the CCA’s public web site:



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