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Sailing accident rate high, but many minor

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Seventy-nine percent of dinghy and keel sailors report at least one injury in the last year, but most of the injuries are minor, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Andrew Nathanson of Rhode Island Hospital said 4 percent of the injuries were considered serious enough to require evacuation from the vessel and/or hospitalization.

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"It's important to note that nearly half of the injuries reported were minor and required no treatment," Nathanson said in a statement.

Nathanson and colleagues surveyed 1,860 sailors who reported 1,715 injuries in the last year on small boats with crews of one or two called dinghies and larger ones with a crew as many as 16 -- keel boats -- like those used in the America's Cup races.

The study, published in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, indicated the most common injuries were contusions, lacerations and sprains. Injuries were mostly caused by trips and falls, collision with an object or a fellow crew member, or being caught in the lines. Seventy-one percent of injuries occurred on keel boats.

"What is most alarming about this survey is the fact that only 30 percent of the sailors who responded reported wearing a life jacket," Nathanson said.

Another concerning finding was that 16 percent of the sailors reported at least one sunburn, Nathanson said.

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