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Accident that killed four in yacht race to be probed by U.S. Sailing

The fatal wreck of the Aegean, pictured, is being investigated

A boat accident that left four competitors in the annual Newport-to-Ensenada yacht race dead off the coast of Mexico will be reviewed by the national organization that governs the sport of sailing, it was announced Monday.

U.S. Sailing has appointed a five-person investigative team at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard of San Diego in response to the April 26 sinking of the Aegean, which was demolished near the Coronado Islands during the race.

The accident marked the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race, claiming the lives of Kevin Rudolph, 53, of Manhattan Beach; William Reed Johnson, 57, of Torrance; Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla.; and the boat’s skipper Theo Mavromatis, 49, of Redondo Beach.

The panel will interview sailors who took part in the race and focus on safety and equipment. The will also develop a set of recommendations, said U.S. Sailing spokesman Jake Fish.

The Coast Guard is also investigating the sinking. One theory is that the sailboat was struck by a larger vessel; another premise is that it hit rocks on the shoreline of one of the Coronado Islands, about 15 miles south of San Diego.

Broken pieces of the boat were later found but offered no immediate evidence of what sank the Aegean.

U.S. Sailing also is reviewing a sailing accident off the Farallon Islands near San Francisco Bay that left five sailors dead.


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Photo: The Aegean at the start of the 125-mile Newport-to-Ensenada yacht race, the day before the accident. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.

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