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Three Dead In Second Yacht Race Tragedy In Weeks
Three sailors are dead and a fourth is missing after their 37-foot racing yacht reportedly collided with a larger vessel and was reduced to debris that looked "like it had gone through a blender".
The four crew members were on board the Aegean which was taking part in a 124-mile race from Newport Beach, California, to Ensenada in Mexico.
The race started on Friday and the sailboat was reported missing on Saturday when it disappeared off the Newport Ocean Sailing Association's online tracking system.
Eric Lamb, who has been patrolling the race for eight years as captain for a private company, spotted the debris and called the coast guard.
He said the vessel looked like it "had gone through a blender".
"It was real obvious it had been hit just because the debris was so small," he said.
The bodies of the three crew members have been recovered.
The search for the fourth was suspended on Sunday night after the US Coast Guard, the Mexican navy and civilian vessels combed the waters for the missing sailor.
Officials have not yet determined the cause of the accident, but it is believed the yacht may have hit a larger vessel like a freighter or tanker. An investigation has been launched.
The deaths are the first fatalities in the race's 65-year history.
It is the third major racing accident off the Californian coast in recent weeks, and the second to result in fatalities.
Five sailors died when their 38ft yacht was hit by powerful waves, smashed into rocks and capsized during a race on April 14.
In another incident on March 31, crew members from an Australian yacht on a round-the-world race were injured when a huge wave struck the ship.
Races in ocean waters outside San Francisco Bay have been suspended while a safety review is carried out by US Sailing, the governing body of yacht racing.
Its president, Gary Jobson, said the body was working to make the sport safer.
"I'm horrified. I've done a lot of sailboat racing and I've hit logs in the water, and I've seen a man go overboard, but this takes the whole thing to a new level," he said.
"We need to take a step back and take a deep breath with what we're doing. Something is going wrong here," he added.