Survivor: safety harnesses might have prevented deaths

FAIRFAX, CALIF, Apr 27: The US Coast Guard said it has suspended sailboat racing in the Pacific Ocean off Northern California following a yachting accident that killed five people west of San Francisco earlier this  month.
The agency yesterday said it called for the offshore racing “stand down” due to the fatal April 14 tragedy near the Farallone Islands, and another accident in the area that occurred two weeks before and injured two yacht crew members.
Laura Munoz, executive director of the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay, said the Coast Guard stopped issuing permits for ocean races pending results of a report on the Farallone Islands accident.
The association subsequently rerouted a race scheduled for tomorrow out of the open water and into San Francisco Bay, she said. Plans for future ocean sailboat contests remain uncertain.
“Everyone wanted to take a pause and make sure everything that can be done has been done,” Munoz said.
Latitude 38, a sailing website, called the move unprecedented and said the orders came from Coast Guard Captain Cindy Stowe of 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.
“The San Francisco Bay area sailing community is one of the most vibrant, experienced and capable sailing communities in the world,” Stowe said in a statement.
“This temporary safety stand-down from offshore racing will allow the Coast Guard and the offshore racing community to further our common safety goals,” she  said.