San Diego-based U.S. Coast Guard crews launched a rescue mission for a sailboat broken apart by waves in an 8-foot surf off San Clemente Island late Friday.
One person died and five others were rescued from the surf in hazardous weather conditions caused by a powerful winter storm.
The 30-foot sailboat was competing in the Islands Race when the vessel’s rudder failed around 9:30 p.m.
The crew tried to launch but couldn’t because of weather conditions. A 10-knot wind and a small craft advisory were in effect at the time, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
As the “Uncontrollable Urge” crew tried to anchor, they drifted closer to the island located southwest of Catalina off the coast of Southern California.
That’s when an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Coast Guard Sector San Diego and Coast Guard Cutter Edisto.
The sailboat eventually broke apart at the rocky surf line, according to the USCG, and six people were pulled from the water.
Crew members were taken to UCSD and Mercy Hospitals for treatment.
The sailors initiated a mayday call at 9:30 p.m. but refused help from nearby boaters or the Coast Guard. The rescue mission was launched more than an hour later when the crew decided to abandon the vessel.
The “Uncontrollable Urge” is a Columbia Carbon 32 owned by James Gilmore of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island.
The day before the race Gilmore posted updates on Twitter about taking out the "new Urge" for a race.
"Gonna see what this boat can do!" he tweeted.
The Islands Race, sponsored by the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club, involves a course that runs 139 nautical miles rounding Catalina and San Clemente Islands. A map that live-tracked the race can be seen here.
On Saturday morning the Silver Gate Yacht Club of Shelter Island released the following statement about the fatal sailboat accident:
“Silver Gate Yacht Club is very sad to acknowledge the loss of one of our members, as well as the loss of a member's boat. This is a tragedy for the families and our club is in mourning for the loss of life. We will be respecting the privacy of the family by not releasing any further information until a time of the family's choosing.”
A report released by the county medical examiner’s office Saturday afternoon confirmed that 36-year-old San Diego resident Craig Williams was the victim killed in the sailboat accident.
When Coast Guard crews reached the boat, they discovered Williams unresponsive in the water, the report confirms. He was pulled from the water and pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the San Diego Yacht Club website, Williams owned his own boat named "Uproarious."
Friends and fellow sailors say Williams was an avid sailor and devoted husband and father. He leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter and wife, who is expecting the couple's second child.
A memorial fund has been established for Williams' family. To donate, click here.