Editor’s note: The content for this story was taken directly from the March 7 order of Chief Judge David R. Martin of the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Ill. Italicized material is taken verbatim from the judge’s order. All witness testimony Martin quoted was given either in court or in depositions before the trial.
Situational awareness (noun): the perception of environmental elements with respect to time and/or space, the comprehension of their meaning and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time. It involves being aware of what is happening in the vicinity to understand how information, events and one’s own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. — Wikipedia
Ask any 10 sailors what situational awareness means, and you will get 10 different answers. It begins with what our senses convey to us at any moment in time. Therefore it is somewhat subjective.
The Coast Guard has consistently listed boat wakes among the top 10 primary contributing factors for boating accidents in the United States in its annual Recreational Boating Statistics report. It's been determined that the number of boating accidents and personal injuries attributed to boat wakes during the last four years is an average of 193 people hurt each year because of the force of a boat’s wake and that an average of 211 accidents were caused by the force of a wake.
As a stunned San Francisco sailing community mourned the loss of five of its own, fact-finding continued into how and why the 38-footer Low Speed Chase rolled in breaking seas while rounding Southeast Farallon Island for the 28-mile return to San Francisco’s bayside city front — start and finish of the Full Crew Farallones Race.
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