California yacht struck island in fatal wreck

FAIRFAX, CALIF, June 13: A yacht wreck that killed four crewmen in a race from Southern California to Mexico occurred because the sailboat struck an island, not another vessel as first believed, an independent sailing panel said.
The finding from a US Sailing Association panel confirms a crash scenario that US Coast Guard investigators formulated
within days of the wreck. But it fails to explain why the 11.3-meter Aegean slammed into an island. The association promised a full report next month.
The panel determined that the yacht ran aground after gathering material from its satellite tracking device and information from race organizers.
‘Following extensive research, the panel is confident that a grounding on North Coronado Island is the cause of accident,’ US Sailing said in a statement.
The Coronado Islands are off the coast of the Mexican state of Baja California.
The Aegean set sail from Southern California on April 27 to compete in the 65-year-old Newport to Ensenada Race. The boat disappeared from satellite tracking at about 1:30 a.M. On April 28.
The weekend of the crash, the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, which sponsors the race, issued a statement saying the Aegean appeared to have collided with a larger ship.
But a GPS record tracking the yacht’s path showed it sailing for more than three hours on a collision course straight into North Coronado Island, Coast Guard Lieutenant Bill Burwell said last month.
Yesterday, Coast Guard spokesman Henry Dunphy said his agency’s examination of the accident was continuing and that investigators were using recovered pieces of the vessel to determine the cause of the mishap. They also have interviewed
former members of the Aegean’s crew.
All four crew members on the boat at the time of crash perished, including the Aegean’s 49-year-old skipper, aerospace engineer Theo Mavromatis.
The wreck followed an April 14 racing accident that killed five sailors near the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. The Farallon crash prompted the Coast Guard to temporarily suspend racing in the Pacific Ocean off northern California.


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