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Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Aug 15

Red Bull Flugtag Event Has Permit Pulled During Event

A Red Bull Flugtag event in Portland Oregon was shut down by the US Coast Guard recently as a result of the river being over-crowded with boats resulting in commercial and emergency vehicles being unable to use the river.

The event proved extremely popular, which was to be expected, and it saw an estimated 86,000 people gathered on and in and around the river.

There were so many boats on the water that it seems a commercial vessel that operates there reugularly may have collided with smaller boats that had dropped anchor in the water.

This is reportedly in spite of many announcements for the boats to clear a path for the commercial vehicle.

Check out this video of an incident:

It's actually illegal to drop anchor in the area as it's a federal shipping channel. 

The Coast Guard released the following statement:

The Coast Guard is investigating a possible collision between a commercial vessel and recreational vessels during the Red Bull Flugtag event on the Willamette River near Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Saturday.

An investigating officer from Marine Safety Unit Portland visited the motor vessel Portland Spirit and conducted interviews with crewmembers on Sunday.

MSU Portland revoked the marine event permit for the Red Bull Flugtag event Saturday afternoon, before the reported collision, for the safety of the waterway and the safety of all waterway users. Spectators were obstructing the channel and restricted its use by waterway users. The Red Bull event staff was unable to control event spectators and as a result could not prevent hazardous conditions as required by the event permit.

Event organizers are required by the marine event permit to ensure no restriction is placed on the use of navigable waters by participants or spectators, and that the event shall not obstruct any channel or normal shipping lane, or interfere with any aid to navigation.

Coast Guard personnel on scene observed more than 500 recreational vessels, personal watercraft and paddlecraft. Event organizers listed the expected number of spectator craft at 100 vessels on their marine event permit application.

A Coast Guard boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Portland and three Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels were on scene to assist event organizers in maintaining a clear waterway and respond to any emergent issues involving spectator safety. Throughout the day, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Ore., broadcast a safety marine information broadcast instructing spectators to make way and clear the channel to allow commercial traffic to safely transit the area.

The Coast Guard is investigating any actions taken by parties on the water that may have been in violation of maritime law or federal navigation rules.

The bottom line

This was a very dangerous situation. It seems that perhaps the event was more popular than envisaged and that there were more recreational craft on the water than organisers had prepared for.

The event had run there previously and it seems, by reports, to have been well run and managed the last time. 

It'll be interesting to follow the story and see the results of the Coast Guard investigation. 

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