A Southern California sailboat race turned deadly when stormy conditions sent one of the competing vessels crashing into rocks off the coast of San Clemente Island, reports The Associated Press.
On March 8, the six-man crew of the 32-foot Uncontrollable Urge lost control of the watercraft and began drifting off-course. Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club and one of the organizers of the Island Race, told the source that the sailors, who had radioed a mayday call, didn't think they were in immediate danger and declined assistance, instead opting for a towboat and a chance to finish the competition.
After hitting the island rocks, the vessel broke apart and the crew members abandoned ship. The U.S. Coast Guard arrived on the scene to find 36-year-old Craig Williams unresponsive. He and the five men were flown to a hospital, but unfortunately Williams succumbed to his injuries. The others were treated for cuts, bruises and hypothermia.
"[He was a] very patient teacher, very understanding, very humble individual," Joe Banas, Williams's brother-in-law, told local ABC affiliate 10News. "After every race, he made sure he shook everybody on the boat's hand to let them know how much he appreciated them sailing with him on his boat."
The source reports that stormy waters affected a couple of the other vessels participating in the Island Race, causing them to drop out of the competition. This incident serves as a reminder of the dangers watercraft operators face when they are out at sea. With this in mind, it's a good idea for individuals and organizations to work with a marine insurance agency to gain access to the highest-rated providers in the industry and ensure that they are covered in the case of a tragedy.