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Heartache at Race Week Anacortes

Published on June 24th, 2021

Tragedy struck the inaugural 2021 Race Week Anacortes being held June 21-25 in Anacortes, WA. The event, which has been rebranded from Whidbey Island Race Week when that venue was no longer suitable, incurred a fatal accident on June 22. Here’s the event report:

A crew member fell overboard while racing, and later died, despite the efforts of many, including the crew on board the sailing vessel, the sailing vessels nearby who saw the accident occur, and the rapid response and action of the Race Committee. The Skagit County Office of the Coroner will release a cause of death when all autopsy results have been considered.

It is not clear at this time what caused the crew member, who was an experienced sailor and who was wearing a PFD, to fall overboard during a downwind leg of the race. Some on board reported seeing the crew member leaning over and trying to untangle lines around his feet prior to the fall.

Due to the entanglement of lines, the crew member remained connected to the sailing vessel at all times, and was in the water for approximately 10 minutes before being brought back on deck. At this time, the crew was unconscious, and was administered CPR, but never recovered.

“As the Organizing Authority of Race Week, I am immensely proud of the rapid response that was directed at the man overboard incident,” said event organizer Schelleen Rathkopf. “It is still not clear if the decedent suffered a medical event prior to the fall, or not. We are all deeply saddened to have lost a fellow racer, and my condolences go out to the crew’s family, friends, and fellow racing comrades.”

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