Despite scouring an area greater than 5,000 square miles for more than 30 hours, searchers failed to find four sailors washed overboard Saturday afternoon from the 38-foot Sydney racing yacht Low Speed Chase near the Farallon Islands off San Francisco.
The Coast Guard called off its search at 8 p.m. Sunday. "There's a window of survivability and we searched well beyond that window," petty officer Caleb Critchfield told the Associated Press.
Click play for a video report on the accident and the Coast Guard response.
Multiple investigations are under way.
The accident is presumed to have cost the lives of five crewmembers who were competing in the 58-nautical-mile round-trip Full Crew Farallones Race. The body of Marc Kasanin, 46, of Belvedere, Calif., was recovered shortly after the accident. Still missing are Jordan Fromm, 25, of Kentfield, Calif.; Alan Cahill, 36, of Tiburon, Calif.; Alexis Busch, 26, of Larkspur, Calif.; and Elmer Morrissey, 32, who is from Ireland.
Ed Lynch, director of the San Francisco Yacht Club, told the AP it was the first known fatal accident in the club’s 143-year history. Friends and family of the victims told the San Francisco Chronicle the crewmembers were all experienced sailors who were fixtures on the Marin County waterfront.
Low Speed Chase's owner and captain, James Bradford, 41, of Chicago, told Coast Guard investigators the boat was rounding the Farallon Islands about 25 miles offshore when it was struck by a series of large waves that rolled the boat multiple times, sending crewmembers into the 50-degree water and ultimately running the boat aground. Bradford was one of three survivors among the eight-person crew,
Only crewmember Nick Vos, of Sonoma, Calif., stayed with the boat because he became tangled in some lines, according to news reports. All of the crewmembers were wearing life vests, but none was tethered to the boat, the Chronicle said.
A raceboat crew that witnessed the accident radioed a distress call. Coast Guard crews rescued Bradford, crewmember Bryan Chong, of Tiburon, Calif., who managed to scramble up to the island's edge, and Vos, who had suffered a broken leg.
Race results showed that 31 boats completed the race and 17 turned back, mostly because of equipment problems caused by the rough conditions.