San Diego man mourned after sailboat-race death


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Crew members are mourning the death of a San Diego man killed over the weekend during a sailing race co-sponsored by the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.

Craig Thomas Williams, 36, was one of six crew members aboard the Uncontrollable Urge, a 32-foot vessel participating in the fourth annual Islands Race that began Friday in Long Beach and ended Saturday in San Diego.


The sailboat issued a distress call around 9 p.m. Friday after its rudder failed and the craft drifted toward the rocky shoreline of San Clemente Island, authorities said. Coast Guard officials said the Uncontrollable Urge was in small-craft-advisory weather, with 8-foot swells and 10-knot winds.

Initially, the crew turned down a rescue attempt by the Coast Guard or other boats in the race, but as waves pushed the craft closer to the island, the sailors were forced to abandon ship, officials said

Williams was found unresponsive in the water by Coast Guard rescue personnel. ‘He was recovered from the water and death was confirmed without medical intervention,’ the San Diego County medical examiner said.

The five other crew members were rescued, hoisted aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter that had been dispatched from the Coast Guard’s San Diego station.

The Islands Race route is 139 nautical miles and rounds San Clemente and Catalina islands. The San Diego Yacht Club co-sponsors the race with the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. The Uncontrollable Urge, owned and skippered by James Gilmore, was from the Silver Gate Yacht Club in San Diego, according to the San Diego Yacht Club’s website.

The death is the second racing-related incident locally in the past year. In April 2012, during the annual Newport-to-Ensenada race, four racers from one vessel died.

Len Bose, who writes the Daily Pilot’s ‘Harbor Report’ column, participated in the Islands Race aboard the Adrenalin, a 50-foot vessel based in Newport Harbor. It was manned by about seven crew members, he said.

Bose said the mood in San Diego at the finish line was somber after people heard the news of Williams’ death.

‘That was the talk of the yacht club [Saturday] morning down in San Diego,’ he said. ‘It was kind of a reality check there,’ added Bose, who said racing is a dangerous sport.


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-- Bradley Zint, Times Community News