It's hard to speculate without full information, but it does seem hard sometimes for crews to disengage from "race mode". All sympathy to everyone involved.
From the San Diego yc announcement quoted on Sailing Anarchy,
Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the crew and family of the Uncontrollable Urge.
On Friday March 9, 2013 at approximately 9:26 pm, while participating on the 4th annual Islands Race, the crew reported rudder failure on their VHF marine radio. They were in the vicinity of San Clemente Island at the time.
Uncontrollable Urge is a Columbia 32 Carbon sail boat hailing from Silver Gate Yacht Club, owned and skippered by James Gilmore. Crew included Mike Mike Skillicorn, Doug Pajak, Craig Williams, Ryan Georgianna and Vince Valdes. The crew attempted to launch a life raft and attempted to set an anchor before abandoning the vessel to swim to shore. The vessel was reportedly destroyed by the surf at the shoreline of San Clemente Island.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted the six sailors and brought them to the San Diego Coast Guard Sector where they were met by emergency medical personnel for transport to a local hospital. Unfortunately, one of the crewmembers was deceased. The San Diego County Medical Examiner identified the man who was killed as 36-year-old Craig Thomas Williams, of San Diego. >>
Apparently Craig was part of an extremely competent, skilled crew, and left behind a wife, young daughter, and the family was expecting another child.
This is a horrible loss. R.I.P. and eight bells.