One person died and five others were injured while competing in overnight sailboat race off the Southern California coast, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. Tena Ezzedine reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
One person died and five others were injured while competing in overnight sailboat race off the Southern California coast, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
The 30-foot sailboat, dubbed the "Uncontrollable Urge," broke apart in dangerous conditions after hitting the rocky shoreline of San Clemente Island.
Coast Guard crews launched a rescue mission during 8-foot-high swells caused by a powerful winter storm, authorities said.
Six crew members were hoisted by a helicopter, but Craig Thomas Williams, a 36-year-old from San Diego, was found unresponsive in the water. He was identified midday Saturday by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.
The sailor was a member of the Silver Gate Yacht Club in San Diego, where the Uncontrollable Urge is docked, its commodore said.
"This is a tragedy for the families and our club is mourning for the loss of life,'' Carey Storm said in a statement.
Storm declined to release further details.
The sailboat had been competing in the two-day Islands Race, a 139-nautical-mile competition from the Long Beach area to the San Diego area, as shown on a map that live-tracked the race, as shown below.
The event is sponsored by thr Newport Harbor Yacht Club and the San Diego Harbor Yacht Club.
"As you may be aware, a tragedy has occurred during the Islands Race," the Newport Harbor Yacht Club posted on its Facebook page Saturday morning. "The members of NHYC would like to express their sympathy to the friends and family of the boat, Uncontrollable Urge."
The club's general manager said he had little information on the crew or the sailboat.
"We're looking to be able to understand it ourselves," Gilbertson said.
The course of the race rounds two large islands of the Southern California coast: Santa Catalina and San Clemente, which is the southernmost of the Channel Islands and is the site of several U.S. Navy training facilities.
The crew "initially stated they were not in need of assistance and declined assistance from both the Coast Guard and other boaters involved in the race," the Coast Guard said in a press release.
The sailors had requested assistance from a commercial salvage company, but the company was unable to launch due to weather conditions, the Coast Guard said.
"They were not in immediate danger and thought they would be able to manage completing the race and get assistance on their own,'' said Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club. `"Then things got worse.''
A 10-knot wind and a small craft advisory were in effect at the time.
As the crew of the vessel tried to anchor the boat, just after 11 p.m., the anchor would not catch and the boat drifted closer to San Clemente Island. An organizer of the Islands Race told the Associated Press that the crew also unsuccessfully attempted to deploy a life raft.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew launched from Coast Guard Sector San Diego, and the Coast Guard Cutter Edisto was diverted to the scene as well.
The sailboat eventually entered the surf line and was broken apart by the waves, Coast Guard officials said.
After the crew was forced to abandon ship, six people were pulled from the water and were taken to San Diego hospitals for treatment.
Williams "was found unresponsive in the water" when the Coast Guard rescuers got the scene, the Medical Examiner's statement said.
"He was recovered from the water and death was confirmed without medical intervention," continued the statement.
The "Uncontrollable Urge" is a Columbia Carbon 32 owned by James Gilmore of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island in San Diego.
On Saturday morning, the Silver Gate Yacht Club of Shelter Island released the following statement about the fatal sailboat accident:
"Silver Gate Yacht Club is very sad to acknowledge the loss of one of our members, as well as the loss of a member's boat. This is a tragedy for the families and our club is in mourning for the loss of life. We will be respecting the privacy of the family by not releasing any further information until a time of the family's choosing."
The day before the race, Gilmore posted updates on Twitter about taking out the "new Urge" for a race.
"Gonna see what this boat can do!" he tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.