Three crew die and one is missing after a collision during the Newport-Ensendada race
Early reports suggested that the Aegean could have been in a collision with a much larger vessel and yet tracking details suggest that the 37 footer may have ran aground on North Coronado.
Three crew died and one remains missing after the 37ft yacht Aegean collided with what Newport Ocean Sailing Association spokesman Rich Roberts described as ‘a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel’, in a statement.
The four man crew were competing in an annual race from Newport Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico when the collision took place.
“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. 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,” Roberts said. You can watch a video of the US Coast Guard arriving at the scene below.
According to Coast Guard spokesman Henry G Dunphy, vessels near the Coronados reported seeing debris at about 10 a.m. and three sailors were found dead in the afternoon. One body was recovered by a Coast Guard helicopter and two others by a civilian crew.
Conditions were said to be fine with very light winds, good visibility and a sea state of around 6-8ft.
Dunphy said race officials reported the Aegean missing about 11:40 a.m. The Associated Press reported that the Aegean’s home port was Redondo Beach. The names of the crew were not released.
The 125-mile race, organized by the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, began at 11 a.m. Friday off the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. The race crosses heavy shipping lanes off San Diego and saw and fleet of 213 entries.
According a report on Fox News, Eric Lamb was the first to find debris of the boat – most no larger than six inches – scattered over about two square miles Saturday as he worked safety patrol on the race. He saw a small refrigerator, a white seat cushion and empty containers of yogurt and soy milk.
“We pulled a lot of boats off the rocks over the years and boats that hit the rocks, they don’t look like that. This was almost like it had gone through a blender,” said Lamb.
The names of three of the crew were later released as William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, Joseph Lester Stewart, 64 and Kevin Rudolph. The Aegean was skippered by its owner Theo Mavromatis, and had its regular crew, according to Ray Pollock of Marina Sailing, which rents out the boat for Mavromatis.
The incident comes two weeks after an accident during a race from San Francisco to the Farallon Islands left five sailors dead.