The RYA's safety practices have been criticised by the MAIB following a crash that left a child in a coma

The RYA has been criticised by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for allowing inexperienced children to compete in a powerboat race, which left a 13-year-old boy brain damaged.

Ben Ridd from Dorset was competing in a K-200 class Junior Offshore championship at Portland Harbour last summer when he was struck by another boat while rounding a mark. Both his driver, and the driver of the boat he collided with were in their first season of powerboat racing.

The MAIB says race organisers, Wanda Offshore Racing Klubb (WORK), did not carry out detailed risk assessments for the new class, and the RYA was not pro-active in monitoring WORK’s safety management. Furthermore, the RYA paid minimal attention to previous accident and incident reports concerning the sport, including one written by the boat’s original designer, in which he warned of the very accident that occurred on 19 June 2005.

As Ben’s helmet came off during the crash, the MAIB also requested the RYA to carry out a risk assessment on that type of helmet, which had only been tested for adults.
‘Better attention to good safety management practices by WORK and the RYA, both during the setting up and development of the class, might well have prevented the accident,’ concluded the MAIB.