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R I Med J (2013). 2019 Feb 1;102(1):23-27.

Sailing Injuries: A Review of the Literature.

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Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


Sailors are at risk for acute injuries, overuse injuries, environmental injuries, and sailing-related illnesses. Sailing-related injury rates vary from 0.29 to 5.7 per 1,000 hours which is lower than many other land-based sports. However, the fatality rate of 1.19 per million sailing-days is relatively high. The most common injuries are contusions and lacerations predominantly to the upper and lower extremities. Falls and impacts from various parts of the sailboat are the most common mechanisms of traumatic injury. High winds, operator inexperience, and operator inattention are the most common contributing factors for injury. Among Olympic-class sailors, overuse injuries to the back (29-45%) and knees (13-22%) are commonly reported. As many as seventy-three percent of sailing-related deaths are due to drowning as a result of falls overboard (39-44%) or capsizing the vessel (20-40%). Eighty-two percent of sailing-related drowning victims in US waters were not wearing a lifejacket. Leading contributing factors to fatal sailing accidents are high winds (12-27%), alcohol use (10-15%), and operator inexperience (8%). [Full article available at].


fatalities; illness; injury; sailing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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