Tough scenario and it can happen quickly.
Stampedes towards the water are always dangerous. That said, I am guilty of stampeding towards inviting surf.
Couple of points I take home are:
In certain situations, specifically in the situation described in the article, putting someone back in the boat may just press the repeat button for the same sequence of events that led to that person exiting the boat. If the coach was repeatedly caught, broached and flipped and had to pull himself together to patiently wait for his roll, it is likely that it would have happened to the intermediate paddler immediately after being “ready” again after being put back in her boat.
It sounds like going outside the surf zone to regroup was not an option, as the ebb flow was apparently taking folks West and the risk of getting carried out to sea was too high and beyond the surf zone would have been too far out anyway. I wonder if going South to escape the river’s ebb current would have been an option but by the time this turned into a cluster the instinct was probably just to go towards the closest land.
Then there is the issue of swimmer transport. I can totally see how the swimmer didn’t like the prospect of being surfed down a wave while on the back deck of a boat that she had repeatedly witnessed broaching and flipping. Not sure what I would have done. Maybe asked her to climb on the back deck and scramble off as the next wave approached. In cold water, I guess the climb on the back deck would have been somewhat mandatory to preserve heat.
I was surprised at the way they were making way with the swimmer in tow but good to know, especially as you have the waves pushing everything/one in. Scary forces that propelled the boat while the swimmer was left with the torn off toggle in her hand. I assume the rope was old and brittle to rip without a finger-hand-arm injury.
Thanks for the link, Mike. I had heard “something” happened with a group under Sean Morley but never found out what. Maybe I missed his own summary in the comments section but I’m interested to hear how the guy who rounded Great Britain (I think including Outer Hebrides or even St. Kilda) solo in record time several years ago ended up in the water without his boat!
When did things start going wrong ? From the initial decision making process. Not all the coaches were involved in the initial plan in the first place. A hint of critique at the start of the drive to the put in was not sufficiently discussed or even brushed off. Until the incident happened many opportunities to stop the runaway train were missed by just “assuming”.