I cannot count the number of times In which I have hear the horror story of how someone fell in and ended up with the sail on top of them so that they were trapped under it and were this close to drowning, groping around and finding nothing but foil. You dont know where to swim because it all feels the same and any direction you choose seems to go on for ever as if you were swimming from the mastfoot to the top. Sure, I had that moment myself when I was a kid but never since then. The main thing that has changed is my realization that by staying calm, the oxygen we have in our lungs lasts longer and we can use that oxygen for something better than wasting energy. For example, to think and to find a way to get to the surface. I think I can make you feel calmer by giving you this piece of information: follow the battens.
The sail has a number of batons across it spaced at no more than maybe 80 cm apart from each other. Each of these batons goes from the mast all the way to the leech, meaning that if you find one (less than a second of groping with your eyes closed is enough for that) then all you have to do is propel yourself along the baton in either direction until the end of it.
And if you have the boom at hand then I probably dont have to mention that the same thing goes, apart from the advantage that you can pull yourself along it rather than having to swim.
I have also heard so many times from people that they dont hook into the harness for fear of getting trapped under the sail underwater.
To me this is completely unreasonable.
“But how am I supposed to get away from under the sail if I can’t move?” I hear you say. Well here is my answer:
You don’t have to go anywhere! All you have to do is twist your body so that it is in line with the boom and poke your head out and then calmly get unhooked. The distance from your shoulders to the hook of your harness plus the length of the harness lines is greater than the distance from the mast to the location of the harness lines on the boom. Problem solved.