US Sailing Investigating California Sailing Deaths

US Sailing Investigating California Sailing Deaths


Nine deaths in two separate offshore sailing races originating in California have prompted investigations by US Sailing ( The race tragedies follow last summer’s fatal accident in the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac Race, in which two sailors died, and the near-fatal accident in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet race, which Practical Sailor reported on in the May 2012 issue.

In the first California accident, five of eight crew aboard the Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase were killed on April 14, when a breaking wave struck the boat while rounding South Farallon Island, outside San Francisco Bay. One survivor managed to stay with the boat as it was hurled onto the rocks; the rest of the crew was washed into the water. None were tethered to the boat at the time of the accident.

Investigators are also looking into the cause of the second accident, during the Newport-Ensenada Race off of Southern California. Based on data from a Spot Satellite Tracker that was reportedly on the boat, it is presumed all four crew of the Hunter 376 Aegean were killed when the boat motored into the rocky north end of North Coronado Island shortly after midnight on April 29 in calm conditions.

The Farallones accident prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to call for an unprecedented “stand down” of offshore racing in the San Francisco Bay area. According to a USCG statement, “Recent offshore accidents have highlighted the need to assess offshore race organizers’ safety plans and procedures.”

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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