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Swamping Safety Database

Details of incident 108

Swamping record

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Date 24 May 2008
Location Holme-Pierrepont, Nottingham, England
Water Temperature Unknown
Boat(s) involved Multiple 8s, crewed by children
Boat Construction Under-buoyant Empacher, Vespoli, Resolutes
Outcome Only the last minute intervention of safety launches saved other immersed children from possibly being mowed down. All were rescued, but not all escaped injury, and some were hypothermic. The rest of the two day programme was cancelled. 
Description Worsening high winds at Holme-Pierrepont brought the National Schools Championships to an early end. Despite the sculls and doubles being able to finish the course there were four sinkings during the processional race for eights which then had to be abandoned. Before the race was stopped some fully buoyant eights completed the course even though they were swamped. Some of the crews of the sunken boats were in further danger as following boats continued to plough on in spite of shouts from the commentator and crowds. One cox of a swamped and sunk non-buoyant Empacher describes how it felt when a following eight ran into them "nearly all of my crew (were forced) to stuff protocol and make an attempt to escape. Those that were lucky enough didn't get hit. Those who followed the rules and stayed with the boat got clobbered by their blades, and nearly hit head on by the boat. On impulse, we made decisions that potentially saved our lives - I personally chose to dive downwards to avoid contact (barely), before inflating my lifejacket and floating to the surface." Four of his crew were hit.


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