A Note from Luke Evslin
Every team should have a simple change protocol in place. Maybe that protocol will vary depending on the team and their driver, but it needs to be followed regardless of the experience level.
An example could be:
1. Before any paddlers jump into the water the engine needs to be in neutral.
2. A spotter, other than the captain, will verify that the prop is disengaged and will give the call for each paddler to jump.
3. When every paddler has swum well clear of the boat, the spotter will notify the captain that the prop can be engaged.
4. When picking up paddlers the same process will be reversed. The captain will come within swimming distance of the paddlers and then disengage the prop.
5. When the spotter verifies that the prop is disengaged, they will give the call to the paddlers to swim to the idling boat.
It’s up to each of us to enforce that protocol. Until the governing bodies sit down and figure out how they are going to make the race safer (making it an iron race, extending the first change, mandating prop guards, etc), it’s up to each of us to do it for ourselves.
More than anything else, the paddlers, the coaches, and the drivers all need to be aware of the acute danger of propellers. Let’s work together as a community to make sure that nobody gets hit again.