Four men died when the sailboat they were on ran aground in darkness on one of the Coronado Islands and not in a collision with a larger vessel, as was originally suspected, a maritime review board announced Tuesday.
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The Aegean, a 37-foot Hunter 376 sailboat, struck land and broke apart early on April 28 during an annual Newport-to-Ensenada race, according to the U.S. Sailing Association's Independent Review Panel.
Killed were the yacht's skipper, 49-year-old Theo Mavromatis of Redondo Beach; William R. Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance; Kevin Rudolph, 53, of Manhattan Beach; and Joseph L. Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla.
A floating debris field found when the sun rose the next day suggested that the Aegean might have disintegrated in a collision with a considerably larger vessel, such as a military ship or cargo steamer, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Following their review, however, members of the sailing association's investigative panel were "confident" that a grounding on North Coronado Island scuttled the boat, said Jake Fish, a spokesman for the agency.
"The panel came to its conclusion after reviewing evidence, including material from the tracking device on board Aegean, and information provided by race organizers of the Newport Ocean Sailing Association," Fish said.
The board members planned to "continue their efforts to document the accident, draw conclusions, share the lessons learned and offer recommendations to the sailing community," according to Fish. A full report from U.S. Sailing, the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States, was expected by late July.
A Coast Guard investigation into the accident is ongoing.
The fatalities were the first in the 65-year history of the yearly California-to-Mexico yacht race, according to organizers.
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