Coast Guard investigates sailrace collision

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Two of the four crewmen who were lost Saturday when their 37-foot sailboat was destroyed during the annual Newport-to-Ensenada boat race died of blunt-force trauma and a third drowned.

The body of the fourth crewman, identified by race organizers as skipper Theo Mavromatis, has not been recovered, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The three recovered bodies have been identified as William Reed Johnson, 57, of Torrance, Calif.; Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla.; and Kevin Rudolph, 53, of Manhattan Beach, Calif. None were wearing life jackets, according to the newspaper report.

The Coast Guard is attempting to determine what caused the destruction of the boat off the Mexican coast, although investigators said it’s likely that the boat hit a tanker or freighter west of the Coronado Islands, roughly 15 miles south of San Diego.

Based on the level of destruction — small pieces of the boat were found spread over a wide area — it may be that no one aboard the much larger ship that’s believed to have rammed the Aegean realized it.

After scouring a 600-square-mile area Sunday with ships and aircraft, the Coast Guard suspended its search for Mavromatis, a veteran of the race.

“We've exhausted all possibilities,” an agency spokesman told the newspaper.

It was the first fatal accident in the history of the sailing regatta.

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