Like the rule book states, contact with other boats
should always be avoided. But since these things do happen, here are the basic steps to take in the case of a collision.
- Make a quick assessment of the damage. You'll probably know by the sound of impact if you have serious damage. If it's not severe, nor a life-threatening situation, fly a protest flag and hail 'protest.'
- If the damage is severe, secure the boat by getting the damaged area out of the water, or by temporarily plugging any holes with whatever is available.
- Get your boat under control. This means either reducing sail or starting the engine, or both, but quickly check for lines over the side before you turn the key.
- Check to make sure everyone is all right. (Some sailors will disagree and say this ought to be the first priority, but you need to secure a sinking or out-of-control boat first before you can assist the injured crew.)
- Determine if you can fix the problem and continue racing. If the hole is small enough, you might be able to affect a temporary patch with duct tape or sail-repair tape.
- If you drop out of the race, hail the race committee to let them know, and indicate the crew's status—injured or not.
- Determine the safest course of action. If possible, head back to port or protected waters right away. (In our situation, we had to bail the boat out for an hour before we could tack and head toward shore.)