Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge - SailNet Community

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Old 03-09-2013
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Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

All sympathy and condolences to the crew, family, friends, and people involved with the Islands Race from Newport/LA harbor to San Diego via Catalina and San Clemente. No doubt there will be a great deal or mourning and soul-searching in the wake of yet another California sailboat racing tragedy with loss of boat and another sailor dying, and no doubt final judgment will have to wait until the full story is out and all factors have been reviewed by competent authorities.

However, this tragedy, following so hard on the heels of other running-into-islands tragedies in the past year, cannot reflect at all well on the sailing and sailboat racing communities and the public perception of their peril. It may also be that the US Coast Guard and regatta organizers will feel increasing pressure to "do something" to make offshore races safer, or to keep racers at a greater distance from islands that are used as marks of a course. I very much pray and hope that sailors and race organizers will be able to learn lessons and show leadership that will show the public that we are doing what we can to prevent more deaths at sea.

Is there something different that the skipper and crew of the Columbia Carbon 32 "Uncontrollable Urge" could have done to have saved the boat and prevented the loss of a crew member? It seems that they did many things right, including putting an anchor over the side, and about the only thing they could have done differently would have been to call for help sooner when they initially seemed to have thought they had their emergency under control.



http://islandsrace.com/pdf/islandsrace13_si.pdf

"...Uncontrollable Urge issued a mayday call about 9:30 p.m. Friday as the boat's rudder failed and the craft began drifting toward the rocky shore of the island. Initially the sailors declined assistance from the Coast Guard and other boaters."

One dead, five rescued in San Clemente Island sailboat accident - latimes.com One dead, five rescued in San Clemente Island sailboat accident - latimes.com


1 Killed as Sailboat Smashed on Rocks in Race | NBC 7 San Diego
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Old 03-09-2013
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

So sad, like many others it did not need to happen. Coming from someone who has lost steering how do you refuse assistance when you have crew in your care? Sorry for their loss of life. We did have a storm blow through here this week and would think the northwest swell was running hard.

Brad
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Old 03-09-2013
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

sad, but how do you refuse assistance a simple tow would have changed the whole situation...
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Old 03-09-2013
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

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,

Quote:
<<
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.

Last edited by Faster; 03-10-2013 at 12:48 PM. Reason: fixed quote
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Old 03-09-2013
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

Also:

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Old 03-10-2013
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradhamlet View Post
So sad, like many others it did not need to happen. Coming from someone who has lost steering how do you refuse assistance when you have crew in your care? Sorry for their loss of life. We did have a storm blow through here this week and would think the northwest swell was running hard.

Brad
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... the boat first sent a mayday call but then waved off help from the Coast Guard and other boaters.
....
Friday night, the crew radioed the mayday call and also activated a feature on the boat to provide authorities their GPS coordinates and other crucial information, but then declined assistance and requested a tow boat, she said.

However, stormy ocean conditions 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. “Then things got worse.”

...
Read more: 1 Dead, 5 Rescued From Calif. Racing Sailboat Accident | TIME.com

The only thing wrong here is that if they sent a mayday they couldn't have refused help. I don't know if they really sent a mayday, maybe they have sent a Pane Pane, that was the correct thing to do and the press mixed things.

Anyway it seems they were really unlucky:

the crew encountered more bad luck when attempts to deploy a life raft and anchor the boat failed.

Read more: 1 Dead, 5 Rescued From Calif. Racing Sailboat Accident | TIME.com

How can a life-raft deploy fail? That should be an interesting question and what kind and size of anchor they carried, with what warp?

Anyway there is a point I don't understand. it is said that they "waved" away the cost guard. If they wanted a tow why the Coast Guard did not tow them out of danger?

Does not US coast guard does that? In Europe Coast Guard tows boats (if they have capacity to do that and that was clearly the case) even if that is a charged service while rescuing lives it is not.

The organization could not tow them out of trouble, at least?

There are many things that don't seem clear to me...and it would also interesting to know what lead to rudder failure.

Regards

Paulo
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Last edited by PCP; 03-10-2013 at 12:03 PM.
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
......
Anyway there is a point I don't understand. it is said that they "waved" away the cost guard. If they wanted a tow why the Coast Guard did not tow them out of danger?

Does not US coast guard does that? In Europe Coast Guard tows boats (if they have capacity to do that and that was clearly the case) even if that is a charged service while rescuing lives it is not.

.....

Paulo
Not sure what the USCG practices are lately, but the Canadian CG stopped routinely towing some time ago. They will put out a call for assistance from the general public the the boater's behalf.. often someone nearby will offer to help, more often the nearest commercial tow/rescue boat will respond. It's up to the boat that's issued the call for help to accept it, hopefully most will understand that if the commercial help is accepted it's going cost - quite a lot..

That said, the CG will certainly respond to a Mayday call, or any situation where there is immediate danger posed. But they won't respond to a tow request themselves.

If in fact this boat issued a Mayday, it makes no sense they would have 'changed their minds'... mysterious.

Condolences to all those who suffered in this tragic loss.....
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

After read the Sail Anarchy thread it seams that they did not launch a mayday, just a Pane Pane, that the Coast Guard was preparing to tow them and that a private company was contacted to do that the but were unable to due to bad weather. They give the idea that they have tried.

All a bit sketchy but the true is that they had two hours and a half and should be able to get rescued by somebody. I assume that if they contacted a tow company they were given assurances that the boat could be towed in time. The tow company should have sent a boat with capacity to reach them quickly and safely.

Given the small size and low weight of the boat a big semi-inflatable boat could do the job and also get there very quickly.

All this is very strange and I guess that we will know more about all this in time. That was a very stupid way to die and one that could have been prevented. Something wrong on all this.
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

I think a big question is about anchor and rode.

It may not be the case in this tragedy, but all too often I have seen racers carry a token, lightweight anchor, with almost no rode, to minimize weight. Many of us slower vessels carry 3 anchors on board, of different types.

I wonder what they were using? 3 anchors may be overkill for a racing boat, but if you are offshore, at least one good one is a good idea, IMHO.
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Re: Islands Race fatality at San Clemente Island, loss of Uncontrollable Urge

There's a very extensive discussion over on SA since the owner is a SA member. This one hit home in a painful way.
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