The helmet is a kayak helmet and at a cost of $45, the marks on it have already proven to me its worth. I have seen at least one skipper thrown from his boat during an accidental jibe, and I have heard the stories about lumps and cuts on the head because of a misdirected boom or failure to lower the head far enough. Wearing a helmet also gives me some peacefulness and confidence during the race where the worries should be outside the boat – namely, on tactics and strategy ― not inside the boat.
Seriously though, it’s all about concussions. A concussion is no small injury and scary stuff. It is an injury to the brain. All are serious and most occur without loss of consciousness. And while an MC or E Scow race is not football or hockey, getting hit by a boom is no less traumatic to the head than a wayward hit in a football or a hockey game.
One study I read noted that in the United States there are an estimated 300,000 annual sports-related concussions. Estimates regarding the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion may be as much as 19% per season. While ours is not a contact sport, with the number of tacks and jibes during a race or regatta, the chance of experiencing the “glancing” blow to the head from a boom exists. Whether it is glancing or a full-hit, it hurts. With a helmet, not so much if at all.
Whether or not to wear a helmet is a personal choice. But I thought I’d pass on my thoughts about why I do under certain circumstances. I wear one not only in high winds but also when I am practicing alone on the water whether light, medium, or high winds. My radio is on and on hand as well. While sailing alone one can never be too cautious. And then there’s my wife Mary Kay; I’d like to keep her mind at ease too. But, hey, that’s me. Overall, I’d rather loose extra brain cells over a beer with friends rather than with a boom on the water.
John E. Grzybek, UMYC Commodore
MC 2118 Dissent
 “Concussions;” http://www.neurosurgery.pitt.edu/centers-excellence/brain-and-spine-injury/concussions.