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Coast Guard halts high-seas hunt for boaters off San Francisco

April 15, 2012 |  8:43 pm

Coast Guard rescuer
The U.S. Coast Guard has indefinitely suspended the search for survivors of a boating accident off the San Francisco coast that left one person dead and four missing in heavy seas on Saturday.

The accident occurred during an annual sailboat race around the Farallon Islands that has been a tradition since the early 1900s. U.S. Coast Guard Officer Levi Read said the Coast Guard received a mayday call from a vessel about 3 p.m. reporting that another boat -- the 38-foot sailboat Low Speed Chase -- had run aground on rocks near the islands.

A Coast Guard helicopter rescued two people from the rocks, Read said. An Air National Guard helicopter rescued another person and also recovered the body of a person who had drowned, he said.

The Marin County-based San Francisco Yacht Club, which organized the race, identified the deceased man as Marc Kasanin, 46, of Belvedere. Four more passengers were still unaccounted for Sunday.

The vessel master, who was rescued, told the Coast Guard that when the yacht rounded the south Farallon Island a series of waves broke over the boat and flipped it several times, dumping seven of the eight people aboard into the frigid water. Read said the crew members were wearing cold weather gear and life vests.

The Coast Guard had four boats and a helicopter searching the area. The U.S. Air National Guard has assisted in the search with two Black Hawk helicopters.

"We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the missing crew in hopes they are returned home safely," the Yacht Racing Assn. of San Francisco Bay said in a statement.

An estimated 300 people attended a vigil Sunday evening at the 143-year-old yacht club, said general manager Stephen DePetro.

The missing are Alexis Busch, of Larkspur; Alan Cahill, of Tiburon; Jordon Fromm, of Kentfield; and a crew member whose family has not been notified yet.


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-- Joe Mozingo

Photo: A Coast Guard rescurer is lowered toward the water. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard