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Mon Apr 16, 2012, 09:58 AM

Sailing Fans Reeling Over Yacht Race Death- 4 still Missing

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/15/MN6R1O3L4D.DTL

The Bay Area's tightly knit sailing community was reeling Sunday after one of the region's most catastrophic boating disasters in decades - the wreck of a racing yacht near the Farallon Islands that killed one sailor and left four missing.

The wreck happened Saturday when 12-foot waves pummeled the sailboat during the Full Crew Farallones Race and hurled it onto rocks at the Farallon Islands, pitching most of the crew overboard. Three sailors were rescued from the scene, but one, Marc Kasanin, 46, of Belvedere died in the water and four more disappeared in the waves.

The 38-foot racing craft, named the Low Speed Chase, was one of 49 boats competing in this year's contest, which began at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. The race has been held annually since 1907 and is sponsored by the Offshore Yacht Racing Association in Alameda.

Lynch identified the missing sailors as Alan Cahill of Tiburon, a boat technician in his mid-30s who has a wife and two children; Alexis Busch of Larkspur, who is in her mid-20s; Jordan Fromm, 25, of Ross; and Elmer Morrissey, early 30s, of Ireland.

Several boats turned back Saturday when 25-knot winds and waves as high as 15 feet churned up the waters near the Farallones, but otherwise the race conditions were typical for that area and this time of year, participants said.

Then, as racers were rounding the islands at 2:45 p.m., the Low Speed Chase was slammed by a powerful wave that washed five crewmates over the gunwale near the edge of the main Southeast Farallon Island - which, like the other islands, is formidably surrounded by steep, jagged rocks.

The remaining three on board turned the boat around to rescue their comrades when another wave heaved the boat onto the rocks on the northeast corner of the island, authorities said. Two sailors fell over the side on this second assault but managed to scramble to the shoreline, and the one left on board suffered a broken leg.

Too close to rocks

At least one other yacht was within eyesight, and its horrified crew watched the tragedy unfold but was unable to help in the tumultuous waves.

"If anyone can turn that corner, it would have been them," Church said. "These were some of the best sailors around."

http://www.marinij.com/millvalley/ci_20402905/fatal-yacht-race-accident-farallones-stuns-marin-sailing?source=most_viewed

No link yet.



PS: i knew the confirmed dead sailor Marc Kasanin and have raced in the past with him. Three of the currently missing sailors that the coast guard has called off the search for as of last night I know, including Alexis Busch, the only woman on board who is a remarkable young woman, who in addition to being a great sailor, was a Woman Baseball Player - (see Ladybaseball.com). When I used to race, this was one of the races I competed in twice.

Please refrain from making judgments of sailing being a race of the 1 percent and privileged. Any one on DU who sails knows that to be a sailor and part of the sailing community is more than that. There are many who sail and love sailing who aren't rich and often these yachts, while owned by wealthy, will be crewed by people who aren't, both professional and amateur sailors, who sail and race for the love of the sport and of the water.

I am very shook up about this and what isn't in this story which every sailor in the Bay Area and sport knows is that the area where they died is the feeding grounds of the Great White Sharks and near their breeding grounds. Its not in the article and the coast guard isn't saying it and neither are they on television, but their bodies will never be found. I wish nothing more than a miracle that the missing sailors be found alive. But I know better. I know from sailing this area that the risk of hypothermia is so great within minutes if not drowning should you fall in water. its why the crew did the emergency maneuver to retrieve the 4 sailors who were knocked over board, despite being close to the rocks. But if they are dead. i pray this is how they died or were knocked unconscious. Because the alternative is the horror us sailors never want to talk about. And we know their bodies wont be recovered. I pray for their families this morning and send them my love and condolences....

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Reply Sailing Fans Reeling Over Yacht Race Death- 4 still Missing (Original post)
Pachamama Apr 2012 OP
cbayer Apr 2012 #1
kentauros Apr 2012 #2
Pachamama Apr 2012 #4
cbayer Apr 2012 #11
kentauros Apr 2012 #17
panzerfaust Apr 2012 #3
Pachamama Apr 2012 #7
peace13 Apr 2012 #5
Pachamama Apr 2012 #13
EFerrari Apr 2012 #6
Pachamama Apr 2012 #9
EFerrari Apr 2012 #25
n2doc Apr 2012 #8
disndat Apr 2012 #10
Pachamama Apr 2012 #14
lumberjack_jeff Apr 2012 #12
Pachamama Apr 2012 #15
lumberjack_jeff Apr 2012 #16
TuxedoKat Apr 2012 #18
mash412 Apr 2012 #19
Pachamama Apr 2012 #22
HooptieWagon Apr 2012 #26
hootinholler Apr 2012 #20
Pachamama Apr 2012 #23
hootinholler Apr 2012 #27
dixiegrrrrl Apr 2012 #21
riderinthestorm Apr 2012 #24
Sgent Apr 2012 #28
Scairp Apr 2012 #29

Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:31 AM

1. Oh, pacha mama. I am so, so sorry for your loss and for all the friends and families of

the lost crew members.

I'm in Socal and the conditions here were really gnarly on Saturday, so I can imagine how they were up there. We had a few boats come into this harbor from the mainland, but not many. I saw ripped sails and very tired sailors, but everyone who crossed seemed to have made it fine.

I know a lot of racing sailors, but spend most of my time with cruisers. I am on a big, heavy boat and don't really get the racing, but I love to watch them and admire the ones that do. I agree with you that in races like this, this is not a rich man's sport. It's an opportunity for average Joe and Jane to have an adventure, work their butts off and share a rip roaring good time with kindred souls.

Again, my heart goes out to you and your community.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:38 AM

2. You have my sincerest condolances

And I have nothing but respect for people that can do any kind of sailing, be it for sport or pleasure or historical preservation. It's a grueling profession and sport, and beyond my capabilities.

I do have to ask, though, if there are some kind of warning rules or whatever in place for when the weather turns so foul and dangerous. I know not all storms can be predicted in severity, but would think they'd be able to stop a race when it becomes too dangerous to continue.

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Response to kentauros (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:09 AM

4. The weather on Saturday was beautiful and clear....

The weather in the Bay Area was spectacular on Saturday....there were no storms or warnings...

What it is, is that there can be very strong waves once you get out of the Golden Gate. I have sailed out that way in prior races with 15 ft swells & waves. It can be like a washing machine. Sailors know this when they go out there. My understanding from talking to a few folks who spoke with survivors of the accident, is that it was a rogue wave that hit them unexpectedly and they werent harnessed in. The boat did the emergency maneuver we are all trained in to get man overboard and that is when the boat got too close too rocks and pushed in. They crashed against rocks to get their mates.

Sailing in Bay Area is some of the most challenging in the world.....no slam on So Cal, but its very difficult in the Bay itself with the ebb and tide. I have sailed with cocky sailors drom around the world who come and sail in the Bay thinking piece of cake and then are humbled. Only the Kiwi's in my opinion can compare with our waters which is why I think they are so good at racing in the Americas Cup. If you can sail in the San Francisco Bay, you can sail anywhere in the world that isnt ocean racing. If you can sail outside the golden Gate near the Farallon Islands, you can sail any ocean waters in the world.

Just 2 weeks ago, a racing boat in the Round -the-world sailing race had a rogue wave disable their steering and seriously injure several sailors. Its a tough area to sail. These sailors were very experienced too.

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:38 AM

11. We bought our boat in the delta and kept it in the bay for 3 months before coming down here.

As we learned all about her, we took several trips outside the gate before our final departure. So I know how it can be. To say that I was nervous every time we went under that bridge would be a gross understatement.

On the upside is that I really learned much more about sailing because of being up there.

We had gale conditions here on Saturday and I was glad to be in a harbor. But I know of what you speak. Sometimes when we go out it looks perfect, but a few miles off shore things can change in a hurry.

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 12:22 PM

17. Thanks for the lucid explanation



I only know a little about rogue waves, due to reading some of the anomalous reports of them at sea...

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:04 AM

3. From the article "The power of those waves is incredible."

 

Something which may have been forgotten, in the press of circumstance.

I too have crewed on racing yachts (Swiftsure), as well as having served in the USN for over a decade. I have also sailed the Bay - but never more than a few miles beyond the Golden Gate.

At some point one must decide how far to challenge the power of the sea. A few boats turned back, most did not, none others lost any crew.

This points to it not being the conditions so much - as in Fastnet 1979 where 8% of the fleet was lost, and 15 died - as it seems due to an overly optimistic tactical navigation decision which put the craft in harm's way too close to the rocky shore.

They were reportedly experienced sailors, yet no one is immune from forgetting the power of the elements, and focusing on trivial human concerns such as cutting a couple of minutes off an elapsed time.

It is sad, and it is a strong reminder to "those who go down to the sea in ships" that the sea has little tolerance for human needs.

“Everywhere the sea is a teacher of truth. I am not sure that the best thing I find in sailing is not this salt of reality.”
- Hilaire Pierre Belloc, ca. 1910

May they rest in Peace.

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Response to panzerfaust (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:29 AM

7. "A Parable of Immortality".... By Henry Van Dyke

"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!'
 
Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There she goes!' there are other eyes watching her coming and their voices ready to take up the glad shouts 'Here she comes!'"
~ by Henry Van Dyke ~

Sailing, Ocean sailing in particular, comes with great risk....and yet when I used to do it, it was when I felt most alive.....not because of the inherent danger, but because it is a reminder of the beauty of of life, the ocean which covers our planet and is the planets lungs. The power of nature, the humility of it all. In many ways, it was what made me more "human"....it is what made me become "Pachamama" and care about our planet more.....The racing aspect made it like "Chess on Water"....Sailors live for that aspect too....

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:16 AM

5. This is very sad indeed.

 

I send you love and energy. I can not imagine how it would feel to lose friends in this way.

It is chilling to think of leaving someone in the water. They had to know that turning back under those conditions would be devastating for all. As a sailor it is a reminder to me that there are times when recovery just isn't possible. We wear harnesses when the weather turns foul. In this situation the crew still could have been washed over and possibly die from impact with the boat but the boat would not have had to change course to retrieve them. When conditions get bad anything can happen.

I hope for the miracle. Take care. Peace, Kim

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Response to peace13 (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:40 AM

13. We need to hope for miracles, always....

But we are realists too.....I cry for the loss of these individuals.....I pray that if they are dead it was quick and painless and they drifted away into the sea. I remember when we passed the Farallons in one of the two races i did a race many years back, actually seeing once a feeding frenzy of a Great White on some seals....Scientists have gone out there and filmed them and its brutal. No one in the sailing community wants to say it, we all know it and pray for it to have not ended like that. But this is why we know they wont be found. Or only a part of them. Sigh.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:17 AM

6. I'm so sorry, Pachamama.

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Response to EFerrari (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:34 AM

9. Thanks Elizabeth....



Alexis was a truly wonderful young woman that would have done many great things.....

She loved baseball too....felt there should be women playing it, not softball. Check out her website http://www.ladybaseball.com. she also had worked at AT&T Park for the SF Giants...
Her Dad was an exec with the SF Giants. She was a bat girl and was if you remember the sole person who greeted Barry Bonds with a fist bump when he hit his controversial 500th run. She loved the game and loved sailing. She was a shining light and a good example of a young woman to my daughters.

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:22 PM

25. This kind of news is life changing.

Please keep us updated.

I got news once that two dear friends, one my fiance, had died on vacation in Munich from carbon monoxide poisoning. It took some time for me to take it in. Give yourself time.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:30 AM

8. Bat girl who greeted Bonds after 500th homer among missing sailors

When Barry Bonds hit his 500th career home run on April 17, 2001, at what was then called Pacific Bell Park, the only person to greet him at home plate was a teenaged bat girl named Alexis Busch. They shared a fist bump.

I just learned that Alexis is one of four people missing off the coast of the Farralones in the crash of a racing sailboat. Our story on the tragedy, which has already claimed one life confirmed, can be found here.

This is indeed sad news for all the families involved. I just saw on the KTVU Channel 2 news that the coast guard is suspending its search for Alexis and three other missing sailors. I have known Alexis for years and most recently saw her as she was working as a luxury suite attendant at the ballpark.

She is the daughter of longtime San Francisco political and business figure Corey Busch, a former Giants executive who once worked for late Mayor George Moscone.
http://blog.sfgate.com/giants/2012/04/15/bat-girl-who-greeted-bonds-after-500th-homer-among-missing-sailors/

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:37 AM

10. Question.

Do racing crews wear life preservers? Or in such a race, life preservers do not help if thrown overboard?

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Response to disndat (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:45 AM

14. Yes, they are required by both the US Coast Guard and Racing Committee....

They are required PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices) and the ones you wear for Ocean racing are set up with both a whistle and in some cases an EPRB and flashing strobe so that when you are in the swells and/or darkness, you can be seen. I had one that when you hit the water would inflate even if you were unconcious (ie. If you were hot by the boom and knocked out).


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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:39 AM

12. I've sailed but never raced.

 

Are harnesses normally used in offshore racing, particularly in 12ft seas?

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 11:49 AM

15. They are used, but usually in really bad conditions when on deck. Sometimes a rogue wave comes

...unexpectedly and can take you out. Sometimes when you are hiking out on side or in the middle of a maneuver, you might not be harnessed.

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #15)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 12:20 PM

16. I guess I'm just a conservative sailor.

 

If skippering a boat out in weather that forced most of my competitors back to the dock, more than half of my crew would not be untethered at the same time.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 12:39 PM

18. What a trajedy

and I'm so sorry for the loss of your friends.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 03:38 PM

19. What were the safety requirements for this race?

In other venues, a boat is required to have jack lines; and crew, when on deck, must attach their tethers. It is also a requirement to wear an auto-inflating PFD from dawn to dusk but, in these conditions, both harness, tether, and PFD should have been used, day or night. A rogue wave is not a fluke. It can only happen under certain obvious and visible conditions (unless it was nighttime) and it is the responsibility of the skipper to dictate that all crew be tethered to a jack line... nonnegotiable. A good weather briefing should have alerted the competitors to a rough passage. When the sea is setting against a windward shore, anything that sticks out of the water (like the rocky shore of an island) needs to be given a very wide berth. The safest place to be, even in a gale or storm, is open water.

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Response to mash412 (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:13 PM

22. Not sure - but they would follow the OYRA rules and US Coast Guard and US Sailing guidelines

I know these get updated annually and I know in recent years there were aome changes than from when I raced. I recall there being equipment requirements that were mandatory and then static safety lines were reccommended to be attached to the workstation at all times, but not mandatory. I know there were some changes to the equipment standards a year few years back. But without knowing the equipment, I cant say. I am not sure if the owner James Bradford was the skipper or if my friend Marc Kasanin was. But the Skipper is usually responsible for making sure their is the min OYRA compliance reequirements. i dont know if he ordered everybody to be clipped in or not. I have seen with the attachments of the static lines to the anchorage bolts that depending on the load that the clip at a certain angle can come free. I dont know what happened here. What I can say is they were all experienced sailors. Several of them had done the Sydney-Hobart Race recently and that is a hardcore route and race for ocean racing. I dont believe that this was a matter of them not taking proper safety precautions on board. I do believe, and this is my personal opinion, that when you do a race in which you are required to navigate around any kind of rocks and land, that you give enough room and account for it even if it was enough room if you had to do man-overboard recovery. This requires as you know to have a bit of maneuvering room, especially in rough waters. They didnt have this and this is why they then hit the rocks as they maneuvered for recovery.

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #22)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:39 PM

26. I agree with your thoughts.

 

It also appeared to me that the yacht was rounding the rocks too closely, but I hadnt yet seen any official report stating so and I didnt want to be critical so soon after the accident. I did read the crew were all wearing PFDs and foul weather gear, I wonder why the missing crew werent found, especially since there seemed to have been at least two competitors nearby and the incident occurred in daylight. I am not familiar with that area, but I do know that sailboats dont handle breaking waves. It was waves, not wind, that caused the deaths and sunk yachts in the 79 Fastnet race and 95 Sydney Hobart Race. Were there breaking waves all over in this case, or only in the vicinity of the Farallones? It doesnt appear to have been any issue with the boats stability or construction. The Sydney 38s seem to be a fairly moderate design, and dont appear to me to have any characteristics that would make them unsuitable for offshore racing. They have competed in numbers in the Sydney Hobart Race for over a decade.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:13 PM

20. My heart goes out to the families

Please accept and pass along my condolences.

While my grinding days are over, once it's in your blood, it's in your blood. I have trouble cruising, but racing is something entirely different!

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #20)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:17 PM

23. Thanks Hoot.....The families are in shock....

And you are correct, once its in your blood, it stays. And once you are in the sailing family, you are kin, no matter where.....

Greetings to you old DU friend!

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Response to Pachamama (Reply #23)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:05 PM

27. Back at ya

Haven't seen you in quite a while.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:05 PM

21. I know the area and of the water dangers of which you speak.


So very sorry to hear of this tragic loss.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:21 PM

24. I am so, so very sorry. ((((hugs)))) nt

 

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:10 PM

28. The Gulf Coast Morn's with you and all of our sailing bretheren

These were experienced sailors with decades of experience -- including many ocean racers and experts. This is a sad day for their families, their friends, and the sport.

May they always have fair winds and following seas, if not in this journey then the next.

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Response to Pachamama (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 12:23 AM

29. I was reading about this yesterday on CNN.com

And I too extend my condolences to you for the loss of your friends, and I would like to make certain that you refrain from reading any comments regarding this story on sites like CNN. It upset me and I don't know any of them nor do I even sail. Just...avoid any comment boards, for the sake of your blood pressure.

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