Yacht Sails Into Tragedy

Tragedy struck the famed Newport Beach-to-Ensenada yacht race early Saturday morning, April 28. At 1:30am, a boat disappeared from the race's online tracking system. When the sun rose, a debris patch—the only remains of the 37-foot sailboat Aegean—was discovered near the Coronado Islands, just south of San Diego. Three bodies were recovered (none wearing PFDs), and the fourth crew member is presumed dead after an exhaustive search of 600 square miles of surrounding ocean.

The circumstances surrounding the boat's sinking are a mystery, though U.S. Coast Guard officials suspect it was hit and destroyed in the night by a "much larger vessel," such as a freighter or supertanker. Sailors on some of the race's other 212 entries recalled seeing a large ship in the area. But the boat's Spot tracking system seems to show the Aegean running aground on North Coronado Island. More on that theory from the Newport Beach Independent here.

This disaster marks the first deaths in the 125-mile race's 65-year history, and the second time in exactly two weeks that tragedy has struck a West Coast sailboat race. On April 14, a rogue wave swept an entire crew of eight from a sloop during the Full Crew Farallones race off of San Francisco, killing five of them. Luckily, there were survivors to recount the harrowing tale from that day.

The sailing community has no doubt been hard-hit by the two incidents, and Gary Jobson, president of the U.S. Sailing Association, told the AP that "We need to take a step back and take a deep breath with what we're doing. Something is going wrong here."

Via the L.A. Times.