SAN DIEGO — Storm-churned seas during a sailing race off Southern California smashed a boat into island rocks, leaving one sailor dead, after the vessel's crew first sent a mayday call but later waved off help from the Coast Guard and other boaters.
Five other crewmembers of the Uncontrollable Urge were rescued after the 32-foot sailboat lost its steering and the craft began drifting toward San Clemente Island, where it broke apart, Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Gawrelli said Saturday.
On Friday night, the crew radioed the mayday call and also activated a feature on the boat that provides authorities with GPS coordinates and other crucial information, she said. But the crew then declined assistance and instead requested a tow boat. Stormy conditions, however, kept the tow boat from getting to them.
"They were not in immediate danger and thought they would be able to manage completing the race and get assistance on their own," said Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club who helped organize the Islands Race. "Then things got worse."
He said the crew couldn't deploy a life raft or anchor the boat. They abandoned ship when the boat entered the surf line and broke apart.