For the last two weeks, the California sailing community has been reeling over the loss of five of our own, and yesterday we lost at least three, but probably four, more. Rich Roberts, press officer for the 65th Annual Lexus Newport to Ensenada Race, reported late last night that the Hunter 376 Aegean apparently collided with a large vessel off the Coronado Islands.
"The first indication of the incident was at 1:30 a.m. Saturday when the boat’s image vanished from the online race tracking system in place for the race," Roberts wrote in a press release. "A Coast Guard search was launched that led to discovery of the boat’s wreckage, including the rear transom with the boat’s name on it.
"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."
A USCG helicopter directed a Vessel Assist boat to two bodies and a third was later retrieved. A fourth is still missing. The search for the fourth crewmember has resumed this morning. Names have not been released pending notification of the victims’ families.
The annual race, which had 213 entries, started on Friday off Newport Beach. Many boats finished on Saturday, while the rest were expected in today. Roberts reports the weather conditions were lighter than usual in the area of the accident, with boats reporting 1-2 knots of wind.
"These would be the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race," Roberts said.
We’ll have more in tomorrow’s edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude.