We at NSW WA place the highest emphasis on running safe events. Last year at the Gerroa event Dan Berry (Ist place Pro division) went the rescue of a non-competitor who had drifted far out from the beach and was heading towards Shoalhaven Heads in the evening light. This sailor had decided to sail well offshore with limited skills and without an uphaul attached. Inevitably the gentleman had fallen in and not knowing how to waterstart or uphaul his sail, he was well and truly stuck. In fading light and offshore winds the situation could have been dire. Upon being rescued he commented to Dan that he had got himself into this predicament before and had been rescued then too. Although none of us would lack the foresight to end up in such a situation each competitor should ensure that their equipment is fully maintained.
Two key aspects of looking after your gear are to replace all your ropes and universal. I’ve seen a couple of people miss out on a great afternoon’s sailing as a result of a broken $2 line or snapped UJ! So spend a few bucks on 3 meters of 4mm non-stretch marine line and replace those ropes. In particular the line that holds the boom clamp tight. Take off the toe jam from your universal and closely inspect the rubber of the UJ. If in doubt or even if the UJ is a few seasons old, be on the safe side and replace the rubber bodge or more simply invest in a new UJ. This may avoid a lengthy swim and could even save your rig if the UJ fails completely.
At every NSW WA event, organisers keep a vigilant watch on competitors and are alert to respond to any injuries that may occur. However a certain amount of prevention is better that rescue and competitors are advised to keep their kit in proper order. Perhaps updating to a new UJ (and investing in a new mast base) and ropes will be the smartest money you spend.