The wind was North Westerly around 15 knots and boats started on Starboard tack headed in toward the harbour.

To our leeward side was a yacht who, due to the fact that a ship was departing the dock down the channel, called for water to tack on to port to avoid colliding with the ship.

We immediately responded and tacked away on to port to give the yacht room to avoid the ship.

After tacking we noticed another yacht, (yacht 2) coming up on starboard tack and immediately called to the crew to free all sheets, both main and jib, so as to enable us to fall off and go behind yacht 2. All sheets were accordingly freed and the helm turned hard to starboard.

Yacht 1 started to fall off but then seemed to stall and no longer turn to starboard although the helm was hard over and the sails were completely free. (Main boom was against the shrouds, jib was free and boat virtually upright with little to zero angle of heel)

Yacht 1 continued on in a straight line colliding with yacht 2 amidships who was on Starboard tack,  breaking yacht 2’s  mast in the process and damaging the stanchions and toe rail in the process.

Yacht 1 immediately radioed the bridge to explain the situation and announce our retirement from the race.   Sails were lowered, engine started and we then proceeded to tow yacht 2 back to her mooring.

Discussions were had between the two skippers and it was mutually agreed that this was an unavoidable accident and neither party had sufficient time to take further avoiding action than that which was attempted at the time.

If you are used to sailing, the above will make sense to you. If not, let us just call it an unfortunate incident during a boat race. The middle class across Africa is widening. People are taking on new forms of leisure activities. Yachting is one of them.

The recent Cape 2 Rio 2017,  Pinto Russell Marie Galante crossed the finish line winning the race on the 22nd of January 2017 leaving the remaining 26 entries behind. Underwriters in South Africa took notice not only because of the love of the sport but mainly because they have underwritten some of these expensive toys.

sailing accident claims in Africa

The description above was by a skipper who witnessed a collision firsthand. This resulted in damage to various parts of the boat including:

  • structural cracks around the keel
  • mast halved in two
  • mainsail and jib torn
  • damage to hull (gunwales, toe rail and gell coat) and deck

The total claim was for about USD 30,000 which we successfully recovered 100% in 2 months. Generally, policy conditions for such boats restrict payment to 2/3 of the value of

mast, spares, sails and rigging detailed on the policy schedule. One mistake owners make is failing to list these values. This could result in a zero payout.

It therefore goes without saying that yacht owners should be aware of how best to protect or manage their insurance premiums. Rigorous recovery action is a must. Once a collision occurs, ensure you collect sufficient evidence detailing the events leading up to the accident.

Please do note, a standard policy won’t cover the following:

  • Damage caused by wear and tear
  • Wilful misconduct
  • Loss of value due to age of vessel
  • Losses caused by corrosion osmosis
  • Mast, spars and sails whilst racing unless the policy has been extended
  • Damage to machinery following breakdown
  • Theft unless the right security devices or locks are fitted
  • The policy excess relating to damage caused by you and also on any third party claims


Sail safe!


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