A 105-year-old race turned deadly for the first time in its history Saturday after a wave broadsided a sailboat, sending the crew overboard while killing at least one person.
Rescue crews spent Sunday searching for four of the eight sailors aboard Low Speed Chase; three were rescued Saturday when the body was found.
The boat and its crew were racing in the Full Crew Farallon Race, which began in 1907. It’s a 54-mile course that begins and ends at the San Francisco Yacht Club after circling the Farallon Islands. This year, 49 boats set sail early Saturday morning.
When Low Speed Chase was rounding the largest island on the southeast portion of the Farallon cluster, it was broadsided by a large wave, knocking several of its crew members overboard, yacht club board member Ed Lynch said.
The boat then turned around, attempting to rescue its fallen crew members, but it was hit by another wave. That impact knocked all but one person overboard; the crew member reportedly suffered a fractured leg. The boat then washed up onto rocks.
At the time Low Speed Chase’s crew was being rocked by waves, the Coast Guard received a distress signal and mayday call from the boat. Rescue crews were dispatched about 3 p.m. Saturday, Coast Guard Lt. Chris Hanzlik said.
Upon arrival, the air rescue crew spotted three sailors — Low Speed Chase captain and owner James Bradford, and crew members Nick Voss and Brian Chong — who had made their way onto the rocks. Shortly after, the body of Marc Kasanin was found.
Alan Cahill, Alex Busch and Jordan Fromm are among the missing, according to Lynch. Busch was the only female aboard the 38-foot vessel. The identity of the fourth missing sailor was
withheld pending notification of family.
Lynch said Low Speed Chase was a “well-traveled” vessel and it was registered with the San Francisco Yacht Club. All crew members knew one another and many had raced together before, Lynch said.
“This was a major, major event that knocked everybody,” Lynch said of the incident. “We’ve never experienced [an incident] of this magnitude.”
A private vigil was held at the yacht club Sunday.
In a statement released on its website, the Offshore Yacht Racing Association expressed its “deepest sympathies at this time of sorrow to the family and friends of the lost crewman of the ‘Low Speed Chase.’ We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the missing crew in hopes they are returned home safely.”
Video courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.