Powerboat race crash ‘not human error’
The crash that sent Round the Island Power Boat Race pilot Derek Simons to the hospital with minor head and neck injuries on Sunday was not caused by human error.
A Bermuda Power Boat Association inquiry into the accident has determined that the crash stemmed from the racing conditions, which threw Simons's C Class Batboat off course and on to rocks near Castle Islands.
“Our findings have revealed that due to the conditions where the crash occurred, it was not at the fault of the driver or co-pilot. It was a racing accident,” Kim McCallan, the BPBA vice-commodore, told The Royal Gazette. “Both men have over 30 years' experience in racing in both local and overseas waters.”
A brief video clip that surfaced on social media reveals the final seconds before Simons's boat collided head-on with the rocks.
The boat suffered extensive damage during the mishap and had to be towed back to shore, while Simons was taken to hospital by ambulance for observation as a precautionary measure and subsequently discharged.
“It could have been worse if they were not in a capsule,” Ms McCallan added.
“Both Mr Simons and DeShields and the Power Boat Association executive committee would like to thank B16 [Ryan Davidge and Andrew Osbourne] and the gentlemen that were in the crash boat that assisted. Both the driver and co-pilot are OK and are recovering nicely and the investigation into this matter is now closed.”
Sunday's accident evoked memories of the 2002 race when Stuart Smith, of New Zealand, was killed after his C Class boat flipped on the South Shore.
Meanwhile, safety concerns have arisen after some of this year's race participants were alleged to have been racing dangerously close to the shoreline. In a letter sent to this newspaper and copied to Michael Dunkley, British resident Giles Verity claimed the proximity of the boats to the shoreline put swimmers at Elbow Beach in harm's way.
“This year was truly extraordinary with three of the boats coming closer to the shoreline at Elbow Beach than I have ever seen before,” Mr Verity wrote. “Indeed, it was dangerous, pure and simple. The safety of those on the beach was severely compromised by the first three boats during this year's race.”
In response, Ms McCallan said: “Our course was sanctioned and approved by marine police and Marine and Ports, and all drivers were made aware of the course route that they had to take.
“Notices were put out by the Bermuda Police Service and the public were notified by newspaper, radio and TV. Other than that, we will have to look at any footage taken at Elbow Beach and then go from there.”
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