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Boat ran aground in fatal Newport-Ensenada race, panel says

June 12, 2012 | 12:51 pm

The 37-foot Aegean as it set out on this year's Newport-to-Ensenada boat race.

A sailboat participating in this year’s Newport Beach-to-Ensenada race broke into pieces when it slammed into North Coronado Island in the dark of night, an independent review has concluded.

All four crew members were killed in the April 28 accident, which sunk the 37-foot sailboat Aegean a few miles off the shore of Mexico.

The extent of the destruction – tiny pieces of debris were scattered over a wide area of ocean – led to initial speculation that a much larger ship had crushed the sailboat. The area is in a busy shipping lane leading to the harbors of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

But U.S. Sailing, the sport’s governing body, said Tuesday its review concluded that the Aegean broke apart after hitting the island’s rocky shoreline – its last location before disappearing from an online tracking system.

A panel of experienced sailors and expert consultants collected data from the tracking device aboard the Aegean and met with U.S. Coast Guard investigators and race organizers.

A full report by the group – which will include safety recommendations – is expected to be released in July.

The Coast Guard is still investigating the incident and has yet to pinpoint a cause. The deaths were the first in the 65-year history of the sailing regatta.

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-- Mike Anton

Photo: The 37-foot Aegean as it set out on this year's Newport-to-Ensenada boat race. Credit: Susan Hoffman.

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