It’s almost impossible to run a professional yacht racing team without a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) these days. Whether it is being used for safety, coaching or getting VIP guests or media close to the action, the versatile craft are everywhere. While some might love the high-speed element, many of these experiences are incredibly uncomfortable.
[cleeng_content id=”113613139″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Anyone who has been slammed against waves over and over and over again in the pursuit of a fast moving racing yacht will know that the potential for injury is quite high. However a new EU directive may have a huge impact on the way racing teams use RIBs.
The legislation aims to protect people working at sea and provide Health & Safety policy to avoid injury from vibration. Most boats have fixed seating which means that shock waves travel straight through the hull and can cause serious injury.
Dr Trevor Dobbins from STResearch has undertaken studies with the UK MOD examining the repeated shock exposure onboard high speed boats, comparing traditional fixed seats with a suspended jockey style seat. One study showed how the suspension seat reduces the transfer of shocks from the deck to the occupant by a factor 4:1 (a ‘transfer function’ of 0.23). New technology reduced fatigue from 23% in the fixed seat passengers to zero in the passengers using the Ullman suspension seat as compared to fixed seats, concluding that the tested technology can not only reduce the risk of injury but also enhance the operational effectiveness of the boat crew and its passengers.
Several new studies have shown that persons standing up during repeated impacts are exposed to impacts up to three times greater than those measured from the deck, with the average being an increase of 1.5 times. Therefore, a 4G impact on the deck results in an average shock loading of 6G on the backs of standing occupants. This is because at impact the boat is gradually stopped by the water and people standing up impact with the deck first when the boat’s movement has stopped.
The new Directive will have far reaching consequences for every boat operator in Europe – commercial and pleasure operator. Every owner must now ensure that passengers are properly protected from the effects of continuous wave hammering and unexpected side-shock effects. If an employee or passenger suffered a shock or vibration related injury, the boat owner would need to prove that they had taken necessary steps to equip the boat with shock mitigation measures. Failure to comply could mean serious penalties for operators.[/cleeng_content]