TRAGEDY: Sailors mourn after race accident

Published on March 11th, 2013

The sailing community continued to mourn one of its own Sunday as it struggled to understand the string of events and decisions that tore apart a 32-foot boat during a race off San Clemente Island in Southern California and left one crew member dead and five others injured.

Killed was Craig Williams, 36, an architect from Serra Mesa. Officials with the Islands Race identified the other crew members as James Gilmore, the skipper and owner of the boat, Uncontrollable Urge; Mike Skillicorn; Doug Pajak; Ryan Georgianna; and Vince Valdes.

The survivors were treated at hospitals for cuts, bruises and hypothermia and have been released, said Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, co-host of the race.

The race was the first for the Uncontrollable Urge, a carbon-fiber Columbia 32, but the crew members were not novices, according to members of the sailing community. “This was not a case of someone getting in over their head,” Hope told reporters.

Crew members sent out a call about 9:30 p.m. Friday after the boat’s rudder failed during the race, but they initially declined help from the Coast Guard and other racers, and instead contacted a commercial salvage company for a tow, authorities said. That company, however, was unable to launch because of stormy conditions.

Crew members on Uncontrollable Urge tried unsuccessfully to deploy a life raft. They also tried to anchor the boat, but it didn’t catch, and the boat was pushed closer to the island, breaking apart in the surf. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued the survivors from the northwestern shore of San Clemente. – San Diego Union-Tribune, read more and video



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