Learning from a “Spectacular” Death Roll

Learning from a “Spectacular” Death Roll Image

by Carol Cronin – from her blog “Where Books Meet Boats”

Last weekend, after rounding the windward mark in sixth in the puffiest, shiftiest breeze I’ve ever seen on Miami’s Biscayne Bay, Kim and I set the Snipe pole for another challenging heavy air run—a carefully honed yet instinctual ballet that includes shifting our weight both side to side and fore and aft, while steering and trimming sails to keep the boat planing over the waves rather than crashing into them. 

One moment, all was fine. The next, our whisker pole hit the water—and the boat pirouetted around it onto its windward side, a classic death roll.

For those of you who are not sailors, “death roll” is a more descriptive and specific term for “capsize.” “A death roll is the act of broaching to windward,” Wikipedia explains, “putting the spinnaker pole into the water and causing a crash-jibe of the boom and mainsail, which sweep across the deck and plunge down into the water.”

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