Three killed in latest California yacht racing accident

Reuters News
|
Posted: Apr 29, 2012 10:38 AM

(Reuters) - Three sailors were killed during a yacht race from California to Mexico this weekend when their 37-foot (11.3-meter) boat apparently collided with a much larger ship, the third racing accident in the waters off California in recent weeks, a sailing organization said.

The Newport Ocean Sailing Association said the Aegean disappeared off their online tracking system early on Saturday while it was sailing several miles off the coast near the border of Mexico and California.

A subsequent search by the U.S. Coast Guard found the wreckage and the bodies.

The association said none of the bodies had been identified. It added it was unknown how many crew members were aboard the racing yacht but that it usually carried five or more sailors.

"An investigation was continuing, but it appeared the damage was not inflicted by an explosion but by a collision with a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel," it said in a statement.

The race began in Newport Beach on Friday and the last sailboats were due to arrive in Ensenada on Sunday.

The accident in the southern California waters follows two others in recent weeks off the northern California coast, which prompted the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday to suspend sailboat racing in the Pacific Ocean around San Francisco.

In the first of two recent accidents, a pair of crew members from an Australian yacht on a round-the-world race were injured off Northern California when a massive wave struck the ship on March 31.

In the April 14 fatal accident, a series of powerful waves pummeled the 38-foot (11.6-meter) yacht Low Speed Chase during the Full Crew Farallones Race, sweeping crew members overboard and tossing the vessel onto a rocky island.

The Coast Guard recovered the body of one crewman, but three other men and a woman from the boat were lost at sea.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Sandra Maler)