Five Dead In Farallones Race

The Sydney 38 “Low Speed Chase” was lost Saturday on the fully-crewed Farallones race. According to reports the boat was hit broadside by a wave that washed several crewmembers overboard. The remaining crew tried to recover them, but another wave cleared everyone except crewmember Nick Vos off the boat. Vos, boatowner James Bradford, and crewmember Brian Chong were eventually airlifted to safety. The body of Marc Kasanin was recovered. Missing and presumed dead are Alexis Busch, Jordan Fromm, Elmer Morrissey and Alan Cahill.

The Coast Guard says it got a Mayday and an EPIRB signal shortly before 1500 hrs. The boat ended up on the rocks on the northeast corner of South East Farallon Island – photos show the boat thrown up well clear of the water.

Here’s a link to video of the Coast Guard rescuing two crew – an Air National Guard helicopter rescued the third.

The Farallones race is sponsored by the Offshore Yacht Racing Association (OYRA), and participants said there was a ten-minute delay at the starting line off the St. Francisco Yacht Club this morning because of a lack of wind. Conditions picked up out at Point Bonita, and became so brisk several yachts retired. Winds out at the Farallones were reported at 32 mph, with 10.5 feet swells.

This is the first fatality for the fully-crewed Farallones race since its start in 1907. Both the single-handed and double-handed versions of the competition have, unfortunately, a history of being deadly.

Low Speed Chase was a veteran of the 2008 Pacific Cup, and this youtube video is tagged as being taken on board the boat during a shakedown for new sails before that race:

Here’s the current. OYRA participant information for Low Speed Chase:

Boat Name: Low Speed Chase
Boat Class/Model: Sydney 38 MOD
Sail Number: 38009
Skipper: James Bradford
Rating: 27

Here’s the Coast Guard news release announcing the termination of the search:

ALAMEDA, California – Coast Guard crews have suspended their search for four sailors missing since Saturday afternoon when their sailing vessel, the Low Speed Chase, grounded near the Farallon Islands.

Throughout the course of a search covering an area of more than 5,000 square miles, efforts by multiple air assets included a C-130 airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco and two Pave Hawk helicopters from the 129th Air National Guard Rescue Wing at Moffett Field near Sunnyvale, CA. Surface efforts included the 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, the 87-foot Cutters Pike and Sockeye, and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat, all from the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite the recovery of three survivors and a deceased individual within hours of the grounding, the combined efforts of these numerous assets were unable to locate the four missing crew members as of Sunday evening.

“The decision to suspend a search and rescue case like this is never an easy one to make,” said Captain Cynthia Stowe, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commanding officer. “The Coast Guard extends our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the lost crewmen and the deceased. They will all be in our thoughts and prayers.”

And here’s the original release from Saturday:

Coast Guard, Air National Guard Team rescues 3 sailors.

ALAMEDA, California – The US Coast Guard and Air National Guard are conducting rescue efforts in the vicinity of the Farallon Islands following the grounding of a sailing vessel with eight people on board.

At approximately 3 p.m. Saturday, the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, received a 406MHz signal from an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon registered to the 38-foot sailing vessel Low Speed Chase, which was participating in a race around the Farallon Islands with eight people on board. Around the same time, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco received a related mayday call and issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and launched multiple assets including an MH-65 helicopter from Air Station San Francisco, the 87-foot CG Cutter SOCKEYE, and an 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Station Golden Gate. Search efforts were aided by two Blackhawk helicopters from the 129th Air National Guard unit at Moffett Field. Upon arriving on scene, three survivors and a fourth deceased individual were recovered. Coast Guard and Air National Guard assets continue to search for the remaining four crew

This shot was posted on Youtube, and is said to be Slow Speed Chase shortly after the start of Sunday’s race, taken off Point Bonita:

The Associated Press has a fine story about the crew of the Low Speed Chase – I can’t post it here because of copyright restrictions, but I highly recommend it.

You can find it here:

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