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Sailor Killed In Island Yacht Race Tragedy
A sailor died and five others had to be rescued when their yacht drifted into rough seas and broke apart during a US ocean race.
The San Diego crew had refused help from the Coast Guard in the hope they could be towed to calmer waters and finish the race.
However, the yacht began drifting towards a rocky island off Southern California and both their life raft and the anchor failed.
The vessel smashed apart forcing the crew to abandon ship.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Gawrelli said the crew of Uncontrollable Urge radioed a mayday call on Friday night after the 32ft (10m) sailboat lost its steering capability and began drifting toward San Clemente Island.
She said the crew activated a feature on the boat to provide authorities their GPS coordinates but declined assistance and requested a tow boat.
However, stormy ocean conditions kept the tow boat from getting to them.
One of the organisers of the two-day Islands Race, Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, said: "They were not in immediate danger and thought they would be able to manage completing the race and get assistance on their own. Then things got worse."
He added: "Those guys been around, they're very good sailors," he said. "This was not a case of someone getting in over their head."
He said the boat was buffeted by 8ft (2.4m) swells and wind gusts of up to 30 knots (55kph).
When the Coast Guard reached the crew, they found the sailor of the yacht, 36-year-old Craig Williams, unresponsive in the water, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office said.
He and the other five crew members were hoisted into a helicopter and flown to a hospital. It wasn't immediately known whether the surviving crew members suffered any injuries.
The 139-nautical-mile (256km) race began in Newport Harbour in Orange County Friday and was to take participants around Catalina and San Clemente islands before finishing off in San Diego's Point Loma.
The death came nearly a year after four sailors died when their yacht crashed during a race from Southern California to Mexico.