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Five killed in California sailing accident

When we hear of a fatal accident that took place during an inherently dangerous activity, many of us are quick to judgment, assuming that inexperience and risky behavior most likely caused the crash. In many cases, though, the opposite is true. That is the case with a recent California boating accident, in which the people involved were sailing experts who simply happened upon an unlucky situation that ultimately cost them their lives.

The fatal crash took place during the annual Full Crew Farallones Race on the Marin County waterfront. Held every year since 1907, the race is known among yachting circles as one of the toughest races of its kind. This was proved true when the Low Speed Chase, carrying eight veteran crew members, was hit with a series of towering waves.

According to media reports, the first deadly wave hit the sailboat as it rounded the Falloran Islands, washing five crew members overboard. When the remaining people aboard attempted to save the sailors, they were hit with another wave that pushed the boat onto the rocks, destroying it.

When the U.S. Coast Guard arrived on the scene, they found one deceased crew member in the water, and were unable to locate the other four people who had been washed overboard. The following evening the Coast Guard called off its search for those four, stating that the "window of survivability" had closed.

All eight crew members on the boat at the time of the accident were boating veterans, many of whom had sailed since they were young children. They were reportedly all wearing life jackets at the time of the crash.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "Lost sailors were adventurous, experienced," Kevin Fagan, Henry Schulman, Carolyn Jones, April 17, 2012

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