A yacht racing off the coasts of California and Mexico apparently collided at night with a much larger vessel, leaving three crew members dead and one missing, a sailing organization said today. It was the state's second ocean racing tragedy this month. The Newport Ocean Sailing Association—organizer of the 125-mile Newport, California, to Ensenada, Mexico, yacht race—said the apparent collision involving the 37-foot Aegean occurred late Friday or early yesterday several miles off the coast near the ocean border of the two countries.
"It appeared the damage was not inflicted by an explosion but by a collision with a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel," said an association rep, and race officials believe there are few other possibilities for what caused the accident. He said details were still scarce but it was possible that if the smaller boat was bobbing around in light wind, the crew might not have been able to get out of the way of a larger ship, perhaps a freighter. The race goes through shipping lanes and it's possible for a large ship to hit a sailboat and not even know it, especially at night, he said. A Coast Guard search turned up the boat's wreckage, including the rear transom with the boat's name on it.