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Coast Guard halts offshore yacht racing in Bay Area after accident

April 27, 2012 |  3:20 pm

People on board a San Francisco Yacht Club boat observe a moment of silence during a memorial flotilla for five sailors killed in a yacht race.
The U.S. Coast Guard has temporarily suspended offshore yacht racing in the San Francisco Bay Area after an accident earlier this month killed five of eight crew members near the rugged Farallon Islands.

At least two races, one scheduled for Saturday, will be rerouted while US Sailing -- the sport’s national governing body -- conducts an independent review of Bay Area offshore racing procedures. Coast Guard officials said they also were "calling on all offshore race organizers and participants to conduct their own safety stand-downs during this period.”

“The San Francisco Bay Area sailing community is one of the most vibrant, experienced, and capable … in the world,” Coast Guard Capt. Cynthia Stowe said in a statement Thursday. “This temporary safety stand-down from offshore racing will allow the Coast Guard and the offshore racing community to further our common safety goals.”

The precautions come after the 38-foot yacht Low Speed Chase was slammed by two huge waves as it neared the islands 27 miles from San Francisco Bay. The body of one crew member was recovered, and four others remain missing and are presumed dead.

Laura Munoz, executive director of the Yacht Racing Assn. of San Francisco Bay, said that regardless of US Sailing’s findings, her organization was considering imposing a restricted zone to keep vessels about a quarter-mile from the rocky islands during future contests.


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Photo: People on board a San Francisco Yacht Club boat observe a moment of silence during a memorial flotilla for sailors killed in a yacht race. Credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press