Susie Goodall’s Series Drogue Failure

Photo kindness of Angus Coleman, Ocean Brake

Susie Goodall was one of the few competitors in the Golden Globe Race 2018 with a series drogue to Don Jordan's design or, for that matter, with any capsize prevention gear at all.

Given that, it's horribly unfair that when she was deep in the Southern Ocean and deployed the series drogue to survive a horrendous storm, it failed her. Her boat was pitchpoled and trashed to the point that her only option was to call for rescue. The good news is that the rescue went as well as these things ever do, although I can't even imagine how harrowing this experience must have been.

Once Susie was safe, the important question became what went wrong and does her terrible experience indicate a fundamental problem with the series drogue and/or Don Jorgan's science and engineering? Let's dig in and find out:

What Broke

Susie's series drogue parted off where it attached to the bridles as her Rustler 36 was running down the face of a huge Southern Ocean storm wave.

The join that failed was made by cow hitching spliced loops on the outboard end of the bridles to a "flemish loop" made by tying a figure 8 knot on the bight (see the photo at the start of this article) on the inboard end of the first section of the drogue.

I got this directly from Angus Coleman who made the drogue and his information is based on a personal call with Susie:

I spoke to Susie a couple of weeks ago.

It appears that the flemish loop that was on the inboard end of the drogue failed...

Climbers tie what is essentially the same knot as a follow-through figure of eight, and regularly trust their lives to it, so the knot itself was not the problem, or at least not by itself.

Rather, I think that we can deduce with a fair amount of reliability that the failure was, as so often happens when stuff goes wrong, particularly at sea, the combination of several factors—three in this case:

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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