Three killed after yacht collision off California

Tue, May 1, 2012, 01:00

LOS ANGELES – At least three sailors were killed and one was missing after a yacht racing from California to Mexico apparently collided with a much larger ship on Sunday, according to officials.

The coast guard said a helicopter joined the search for the fourth sailor an hour after dawn on Sunday. “Right now, we’re continuing our search and trying to find the person,” said coast guard spokesman Seth Johnson.

This was the third racing major accident in the waters off California in recent weeks, one of which took the lives of two Cork men, Elmer Morrissey and Alan Cahill.

The Newport Ocean Sailing Association said the 11.3 metre (37ft) Aegean disappeared off its online tracking system early on Saturday while it was sailing several miles off the coast near the border of Mexico and California.

“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-ft vessel,” the association said.

The accident in the southern California waters follows two others in recent weeks off the northern California coast, which prompted the US Coast Guard on Thursday to suspend sailboat racing in the Pacific Ocean around San Francisco.

In the first of two recent accidents, a pair of crew members from an Australian yacht on an around-the-world race were injured off northern California when a massive wave struck the ship on March 31st.

In the April 14th fatal accident, a series of powerful waves pummelled the 11.6 metre (38ft) yacht Low Speed Chase during the Full Crew Farallones Race, sweeping five crew members, including the Irishmen, overboard and tossing the vessel on to a rocky island. – (Reuters)