Surfskier death from failed leg leash

More
10 years 10 months ago #8217 by zachhandler
I will keep this short and to the point. This past weekend one of the most talented flatwater canoe and kayak racers in the central United States died because his leg leash failed. I was paddling with him that day. Here is a link to a description I previously wrote of what happened.

I hope this can generate another meaningful re-evaluation of our safety equipment and practices. One paddler told me that Dawid Mocke is now clipping his leash to his pfd with a carabiner. I think that is a good place to start.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8220 by Monti
Condolences terrible loss.
Gear failure, impossible situation, and a courageous decision.
I will try moving the lease from my thy to my jacket.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8223 by AR_convert
Terrible, feel very sad for you, your friends and the families loss, an impossible situation. Others have gone out less prepared than what you describe.

Always looking for the next boat :)

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8225 by rubberDuck
Zac

Sorry to hear of your team's loss. I can only imagine what the emotions are right now. The what ifs and buts, but I would also have made the exact same decision faced with that same situation, else there might have been 2 lost paddlers today.

With regards to the safety: I always prefer to have my cellphone and pouch with me in the PFD to prevent a situation where I loose both boat and a way of communication. I will also have a look at better ways to anchor my leg leash.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8226 by MhojoNZ
What a terrible loss. Having been the subject of a rescue I can attest to the speed at which things can go bad, especially when the water is cold. What saved my skin was the amount of safety equipment I carry (especially when paddling alone). I have flares and a water-proof VHF in a dry bag, and as a backup an EPIRB attached to my PFD. When the cavalry arrived they were most surprised by all of this, but at the same time commented that the usual scenario is of hours of open sea search followed by retrieval of a body.

I know some of this stuff isn't cheap, but when you consider how much some of us spend on skis and other gear it is just good insurance. You only live once.
The following user(s) said Thank You: DougMar

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8227 by Kayaker Greg
Good on you Marshall, it seems to me that I'm the only one in our club that carrys a VHF and most of our members do not even wear a PFD, it seems that some feel its embarrassing to wear one???? While I don't carry the flares I do carry the VHF but like the above sad story it is carried in the ski, perhaps I need to look at this, for awhile I was carrying it in the back of my PFD, might have to start doing that again after reading about this incident. I always have my cell phone on my PFD, have a PLB but have not been taking it on the ski cause of the extra weight to lift out of the water when remounting (always carry it on me when sea kayaking) perhaps should have another look at this. Seems a lot of ski paddlers don't even carry a cell phone on them! I've heard of too many near misses in local circles, thankfully none have ended in tragedy yet.

Zach, sorry to hear of this tragedy, it must weigh heavy on the minds of the group on how this could have been avoided, but for what its worth you seem to have been better prepared than most, and with the benefit of hindsight hope all of us learn from this and re evaluate our safety precautions. There have been many kayaking tragedies down this way this year with people going out unprepared.

RIP Todd.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8231 by dmocke
Hi Zach, please contact me via email:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dawid Mocke

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8235 by [email protected]
My sincere condolences and prayers go out to Todd's family and friends! What an awful story. Equipment failure (among other things) were also presumably to blame for the death of Guy Marshall (a young pastor) in Port Elizabeth (SA) a while ago. We should all take something from these extremely costly lessons.

Someone (a European?) posted a while ago that a person to ski leash should run from the paddler to the bow (or stern) of the surfski as any contact point in the center of the ski would cause the ski to turn sideways to swell and wind and ultimately snap due to paddler drag. Ski manufacturers should take note of that observation and incorporate in their new designs. I for one would like to know how to modify my present craft to ensure the leash works this way.

S.S.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8238 by Kocho
Really sorry to hear this! Not passing any judgement on the involved here and speaking in general: my feeling is that many ski paddlers routinely underestimate the danger of the sport. Many are actually not experienced in what open water sea kayakers would consider sound rescue practices. Combine that with some inherent limitations of the ski as a rescue platform, I think it might be worth to have some sort of safety classes that emphasize self and assisted rescues just like sea kayakers and WW kayakers routinely do. And I'm thinking skills beyond a remount here...

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8239 by EK Sydney
Thanks Zach for posting this tragic story. You should know that by posting it you've probably prevented a possible repeat, I doubt there are any paddlers who read this that won't at the very least run an eye over their leg leash tomorrow and check that it's in order.
I read this with dread having just completed a 360km expedition where this type of scenario was our most identifiable risk and certainly my biggest fear.
Our trip took us offshore from the Queensland coast ranging from 85km to 130km, island hopping distances from 92km to 40km along the Capricornia Cays. We paddled a new design sea kayak that has blurred the lines between downwind ski performance and traditional expedition sea kayaks.
We were paddling trade wind conditions mostly, using small sails which lifted the heavily laden boats and gave us cruising speeds of 9-10kmh, plodding in the ski world but fast in a loaded kayak. Also fast enough to put a kilometer between paddlers in as little as 5 minutes in the event that one capsized or encountered a problem.
We put in place protocols to deal with this. In the event of a capsize and failed roll, self rescue, a whistle blast, no longer than a minute after the event. Next step was a flare. Next step, no longer than 5 minutes was the VHF, which we were all carrying. Final step, no longer than 15 minutes was to set off an EPIRB..
All three of us have years of rough water guiding and instructing under our belts so we are trained to watch out for our group. In the hurly burly of rough water paddling, where you tend to become self absorbed and lose all sense of time you're kidding yourself if you think you can just do this, it takes a lot of practice. On the two occasions where one of us needed help the other two noticed the problem within a minute, that's how closely we paid attention to one another, and how small a group spread we were able to maintain. This was part of our pre-agreed plan for each days paddling, reiterated each morning before we cast off.
In keeping with the theory that most incidents occur before you leave the beach, we had discussed the scenario and felt we would have dealt with it whatever the catastrophe.
Our distance from help was obviously a factor in this level of preparation, but we shouldn't forget that there are days off Sydney where even a couple of KM offshore might as well be the moon.
My second point relates to the post above, about the safety culture of sea kayaking compared to ski paddling. I've straddled both for the past couple of years so feel reasonably qualified to comment. Note, I'm not crticising, just commenting. Sea Kayakers generally have a higher awareness of safety and safety gear. Besides the obvious risks that the sea presents, I reckon it's because they're generally older, don't necesarrily hail from a competitive sport or surf lifesaving background and are just less secure about the ocean environment.
In my opinion as a paddle sports vendor this is changing very fast due to the introduction of the new entry level skis. The typical sea kayak demographic is suddenly interested in skis, but the historical athletic water background isn't necessarily there.
I try to do a demo paddle when someone calls up for an entry level ski nowadays, and if I see enough to suggest that the paddler will be a danger to themselves I put the fear of god into them to get lessons, carry safety kit and stay within their limits.
The final point is the actual fit out of skis to deal with an emergency. Hardly any have a bow anchor point for a tow. I haven't see one with a tow point just aft of the cockpit to facilitate a deck tow. You simply can't sustain a long tow in rough sea conditions from a waist belt, so for mine that's not an adequate solution, there needs to be an anchor point on the deck for a towline.
Does the average bunch of mates running a downwind line off the coast on a Saturday arvo take 5 minutes to talk about a safety protocol before they set off? How many carry a 15m towline? How many on this forum have actually practiced a tow scenario?
No judgements here, just observations and points for discussion.
Zach, thanks so much for sharing this, I can't imagine how hard it must have been to write, and accept my condolences for you and your paddle mates and Todd's family.
Mark Sundin.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8241 by Hiro

Someone (a European?) posted a while ago that a person to ski leash should run from the paddler to the bow (or stern) of the surfski as any contact point in the center of the ski would cause the ski to turn sideways to swell and wind and ultimately snap due to paddler drag.


I think this is what you are refering to. The leash is tied to the little black rope you can see on the pics, it can slide to the bow of the ski. Thus the ski can be face to the wind and waves, offering very litle resistance, and minimizing the chances of a broken leash. This system also gives an easy solution to tow the ski if needed.

dplouepic.skyrock.com/2932612075-Ligne-d...ncrage-d-etrave.html

dplouepic.skyrock.com/2932632737-L-d-V-C...e-d-oie-L-d-V-C.html

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8243 by Kiwibruce
After reading about this tragic event Ive decided to get myself a marine radio. I'e found a Uniden MHS050 online -Only costs $136.
it looks good ,can anyone recomend a model that works well for surfskiers?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8244 by EK Sydney

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8245 by MhojoNZ
Didn't have a good run with Uniden - it failed under warranty and was replaced. They told me they wouldn't cover another replacement under warranty as I was "obviously" misusing it! Cobra is even less reliable than Uniden I am told. The most robust is ICOM. I have an M88 and after two years it still works perfectly. Just needs a rinse and dry after use. They are expensive but MUCH cheaper if you purchase from the US (via Ebay).

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8246 by Boef
I'm shocked to hear of Todd's passing while paddling with such an experienced bunch of blokes. And all of that while paddling in a fresh water lake! Who would have thought!! Handler, Abrahams and Sanborn (whilst never having met them) are all known by reputation (from various websites). Just have a look at Todd's pic on the skinnyski link Zach posted and you'll see this was a guy in great shape and obviously no paddling novice!

I feel intensely for those who went out on that fateful run with Todd. Each has his own demons to face for the next bit but please remember: Lads, hindsight will always be 20/20. You ALL made the call to go out that day and made arrangements far more advanced than our bunch make with conditions way worse than yours. One of you fell. That is so sad but an accident does not ring an alarm bell. The first thing you guys (Handler, Sandborn, Brumbaugh and Abrahams) need to do is realise and accept that none of this is your fault and that this was a very tragic accident (Websters defines an accident as an unforeseen and unplanned event - enough said!!). You alone could not have prevented this from happening.

I would be very happy to purchase a VHF radio but fear that I almost always paddle alone in the ocean (there are only 5 surfski paddlers on island), and there is not much in the form of a surf rescue operation here. The golden rule of paddling here is to keep withing swimming distance from shore, so if you end up in dwang you could scramble to shore. Not the safest of plans but what are the alternatives? Heck, In a moderate downwind with mates all are separated within the first 10 minutes anyway after which you only see each other at the end.

I am carefully watching this post to see what we could take out of this excessively sad event to ensure it does not repeat itself in future. This is effectively a self regulating international sport and up to all of us to ensure an acceptable safety standard is maintained.

This issue of safety (and wearing pfd's) came up on this website some time ago when someone asked how long people are going to keep on paddling offshore (races or not) without wearing pfd's before a fatality will encourage legislation compelling the use of those? Now while pfd's were worn here there was (apparently) still a failure in safety equipment (none of which are mandatory). As this industry has no minimum standards it may very well be up to the participants of the sport to start laying down the parameters, ie. (when further than 300m offshore in conditions) paddling with a partner, wearing a pfd, ski to person leash when outside the backline, leash that attaches to the bow or stern (not center of the ski), VHF radio (if receivable), pencil flares (and always, always take duct-tape with you).

How does the VHF radio work anyway - do i need to have someone listening? I also heard from someone about this emergency distress beacon? Now that sounds a duzi!!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8259 by dplouepic
Thank you Hiro to speak about my sliding leash and attachment point at the bow of my ski. dplouepic.skyrock.com
three years ago when i started ski paddling i suggested to the french Epic importer who was about to visit the factory in china to talk about this important bow attachment point.Many times i've said to Oscar Chalupsky that the handle at the V8 bow should be fitted to all the other Epic surfskis as it's ideal to install the sliding leash.have a look on the articles about my epic experience(epickayaks.com) and you will find all the ideas:
-paddling alone with a VHF in your PFD is probably safer than paddling in group as the group gives a false feeling of safety.i recently bought a submersible hand held VHF radio ENTEL HT 644 at discount marine in France. this radio is far better and stronger than any ICOM models
-i do not use any ankle leash from the market as i prefer to hand sew my personnal design leash. have a look on my blog , articles of may, june and july 2010 and you will see it. in any case the Velcro is held on both side.difficult for me to explain this in english but look at the pics
-many times i've said that french competitors aren't interested to carry safety equipement.one moretime read my article at news and events on epickayaks.com.yes indeed i'm a former sea kayaker and i aggree when somebody says that sea-kayakers are more interested with safety equipement.competitors who are good paddlers should remember they do not paddle on the water but on the sea. minimal knowledge of the sea is needed.for me a good surfskier is 50% good paddler/surfer, and 50% sailor.
yes , it a pity to read the death of a man just because few inches of Velcro where lacking or a plastic buckle broke


-for sure always wear a PFD

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8260 by Kocho
Perhaps, worth re-reading this article here:

www.surfskidev.info/content/view/759/99

Very similar situations were practiced...

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago #8262 by Kayaker Greg
That's an excellent idea on using a reflective blanket for viability!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago - 10 years 10 months ago #8264 by DougMar
KiwiBruce: I usually (9 times out of ten) paddle with my Icom IC-M72 "submersible plus" 6-watt VHF. I have it typically clipped to the aft bungees on the V12. My paddling partner sometimes snickers at it while the yachties are chit-chatting away over the rf waves, but one day it may come in handy. But hopefully that day will never happen.
You can now pick 'em up for a lot less dinaros than when I bought mine two years ago, now for about $200 USD. I've done hundreds of miles of paddling with this unit, and the battery charge last for a very long time on a single charge (at least three months with about 6 - 12 hours of paddling a week with radio channel-monitoring). I always have the unit turned on while I'm paddling, and I've charged it only about four times in the past two years! The lithium battery pack keeps on going and going!
I do not keep it in a waterproof container while paddling... actually, it's always exposed to the elements so that I can communicate without delay. The unit is extremely well constructed, the clip is very robust and does not slip off whatever you’ve clipped it to, without manually unclipping the unit.
After every paddle, I rinse the unit under the tap, remove the battery pack, and dry the battery compartment and the rest of the radio. After more than two years of constantly wet use, the radio appears and performs like new. It is not the lightest radio on the market, but it is a relatively compact unit for such a powerful package. I would definitely replace this unit with the same model if I were to loose it. To test the unit's functionality more than once in a while, I'll call for a tow on behalf of this week’s hapless yachtie who has discovered the sand bar has shifted yet again.
The only thing I may change about the unit is the location to which I clip it. I should really be clipping it to my pfd. Perhaps I should start wearing my pfd on 100% of my outings from now on, too. That reminds me.... Hey Dawid, when can us yanks expect to be able to purchase your superior 'ski-paddler floatation device (spfd) in the States?!?!
Last edit: 10 years 10 months ago by DougMar.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 years 10 months ago - 10 years 9 months ago #8295 by FalllGuy
My condolences for the loss of a friend...

I would humbly like to offer up this information for possible consideration...

It is a very small device


ACR Electronics ResQLink™ 406 GPS. Emergency Personal Locator


www.acrelectronics.com/products/catalog/...ns/resqlink-406-gps/
Last edit: 10 years 9 months ago by FalllGuy.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

Protected by R Antispam