A lack of grab handles on a RIB led to a student falling overboard and being struck by the boat’s propeller while taking part in a RYA powerboat level two training course.
The accident took place in June 2023 at St Andrews Sailing Club, Fife, Scotland during a man overboard (MOB) manoeuvre.
Three students were being taught by one of the sailing club’s RYA powerboat instructors on board Midsummer, a Valliant RIB owned by the club.
The instructor had demonstrated an MOB recovery procedure using a buoyancy aid to simulate the casualty before starting the practical exercise.
During a turn, while the RIB was travelling at approximately 15 knots, one of the students fell backwards into the water and was then struck by the boat’s engine and propeller, injuries which required medical attention.
After a preliminary assessment, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s preliminary assessment identified that the students lent back to maintain their balance and the student who fell overboard overbalanced and fell out of the boat because they were unable to reach a suitable handhold with which to steady themselves.
Examination of the RIB showed that there were insufficient handholds available for three people to sit safely on the sponsons when the craft was underway. The RYA has subsequently issued training guidance on the correct method of teaching the MOB recovery procedure, highlighting the need for adequate handholds for occupants sitting on the sponsons of a RIB and the correct boat handling methods.