Do you suppose the driver was texting? I know life can be strange, but really, run into an island?
A US Sailing Independent Review Panel has come to a conclusion regarding the cause of accident. Aegean, a 37-foot Hunter 376 sailboat, was destroyed during the race a few miles offshore near Mexico’s Coronado Islands.

Aegean Yacht’s GPS track – Newport to Ensenada 2012  © Spot LLC

Following extensive research, the Panel is confident that a grounding on North Coronado Island is the cause of accident.

Portsmouth, R.I. (June 12, 2012) – A US Sailing Independent Review Panel has
come to a conclusion regarding the cause of accident during the 2012 Newport
to Ensenada Race that resulted in the deaths of four sailors on April 28.
Aegean, a 37-foot Hunter 376 sailboat, was destroyed during the race a few
miles offshore near Mexico’s Coronado Islands. Following extensive research,
the Panel is confident that a grounding on North Coronado Island is the
cause of accident.

The Panel gathered information from race organizers, collected data from the
Aegean’s track during the Race, and met with the US Coast Guard San Diego
Sector’s investigation team. The Panel came to a conclusion after reviewing
the evidence that was assembled, including material from the tracking device
on board Aegean, and information provided by race organizers of the Newport
Ocean Sailing Association. The Panel will continue their efforts to document
the accident, draw conclusions, share the lessons learned and offer
recommendations to the sailing community. A full report from US Sailing is
expected by end of July.

The members of the Independent Review Panel are Chairperson, Bruce Brown
(Costa Mesa, Calif.), John Winder (Annisquam, Mass.), Alan Andrews (Corona
del Mar, Calif.), Ed Adams (Middletown, R.I.), and Alan McMillan (Pensacola,
Fla.). The Offshore Special Regulations Consultant on the panel is Evans
Starzinger (Milford, Conn). The Safety at Sea Committee Chair and Review
Panel Liaison is Chuck Hawley (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Medical Advisors are Dr.
Michael Jacobs (Vineyard Haven, Mass.), Dr. Kent Benedict (Aptos, Calif.)
and Dr. Steven Shea (Long Beach, Calif.). Jim Wildey (Annapolis, Md.)
advises on investigation procedures and formats. — Full story at:


May 9, 2012 – Coronado Islands

Theo Mavromatis’s body was discovered this weekend by fishermen.
Photo Courtesy Aegean
© 2012 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC


The San Diego County coroner has identified a body found by Southern California fishermen on Sunday as that of Theo Mavromatis, the skipper of the doomed Hunter 376 Aegean. Mavromatis (49) and crew Kevin Rudolph (53), William Johnson (57), and Joseph Stewart (64) were racing in the cruising division of the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Race on April 28 when their SPOT tracker suddenly stopped transmitting in the early morning hours. Wreckage from the boat was discovered the next afternoon, along with the bodies of three of her crewmembers. According to the medical examiner, everyone aboard sustained blunt force trauma to their heads, with Mavromatis, Rudolph and Johnson dying from their injuries and Stewart drowning after receiving the injuries.

From the boat’s track, it looks as if Aegean was moving at a steady pace in light winds — indicating it was motoring – when it appears to have run into the northernmost Coronado Island, but many still hold to the theory that Aegean was run down by a freighter in the night. The Coast Guard has yet to announce the findings of their investigation, but Lt. Bill Fitzgerald of USCG Sector San Diego indicated that the evidence is definitely leading them in a particular direction.

– latitude / ladonna


Images from the last “America’s Cup” visit to Newport when lead mines were still in fashion.


The reports of the tragedy of “AEGEAN” remains a puzzle for me. Could the 37 foot hunter yacht have been destroyed in the manner described by hitting coronado island? Then have the debris field float against the current to be discovered?

Was the boat hit by a ship as first reported and the transponder then continue to send a signal until it landed on the island?

As usual everyone has opinion, which has been formed without all of the facts. How often have we seen that happen in life?


I had some pretty pictures to post but this is a thread that should continue

Newport Ocean Sailing Association (NOSA) officials learned late Saturday that three sailors in their Newport to Ensenada offshore race had died in an apparent collision with a large vessel several miles off the coast near the border.

The 37-foot Aegean was reduced to debris that looked “like it had gone through a blender,” a searcher said Sunday after the boat apparently collided with a larger vessel, killing three sailors and leaving a fourth missing. The U.S. Coast Guard, the Mexican navy and civilian vessels scoured the waters off the shore of both countries for the missing sailor before suspending their search Sunday evening. It was California’s second deadly accident this month involving an ocean race.

Race officials said they had few explanations for what may have happened to the Aegean other than it must have collided with a ship like a freighter or tanker that did not see the smaller vessel.

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, said Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, the race organizer. 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, Roberts said.

The Coast Guard said conditions were fine for sailing, with good visibility and moderate ocean swells of 6-to-8 feet. Officials had not yet determined the cause of the accident, and would not speculate late Sunday on what ship, if any, might have collided with the sailboat. A race tracking system indicated the Aegean disappeared about 1:30 a.m. PDT (4:30 a.m. EDT) Saturday, he added.

Other yachts near the Coronado Islands in Mexico — four small, mostly uninhabited islands — reported seeing debris Saturday morning. Two of the dead were William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance, Calif., and Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office was withholding the name of the third sailor pending notification of relatives. Calls to Johnson’s and Stewart’s homes went unanswered Sunday.

The Aegean is registered to Theo Mavromatis, 49, of Redondo Beach, Calif. The race association didn’t know if he was aboard, but Gary Gilpin at Marina Sailing, which rents out the Aegean when Mavromatis isn’t using it, said the 49-year-old skipper took the yacht out earlier in the week for the competition. Gilpin said Mavromatis, an engineer, was an experienced sailor who had won the Newport to Ensenada race in the past. A woman answering a call at a number listed for Mavromatis declined to answer questions.

Eric Lamb was the first to find debris of the boat — most no larger than six inches — scattered over about two square miles Saturday as he worked safety patrol on the race. He saw a small refrigerator, a white seat cushion and empty containers of yogurt and soy milk. “We pulled a lot of boats off the rocks over the years and boats that hit the rocks, they don’t look like that. This was almost like it had gone through a blender,” said Lamb, 62.

A Coast Guard helicopter circling overhead directed him and a partner to two floating bodies. Both had severe cuts and bruises, and one of them had major head trauma. Two race participants who were in the area at the time the Aegean disappeared said they saw or heard a freighter. Cindy Arosteguy of Oxnard, Calif., remembers hearing on her radio someone say, “Do you see us?” as she saw a tanker about a half-mile away. “I got back on the radio and said, ‘Yes, I see you,'” she said. “It was definitely a freighter.”

In Ensenada, several hundred people held a minute of silence for the victims at an awards ceremony that spilled out in a courtyard from a large white canopy at a hotel that served as race headquarters. Chuck Iverson, commodore of the sailing association, said in an interview that the collision was a “fluke,” noting how common night races are along Mexico’s Baja California coast. “We’re all shocked by this whole event,” he said. The deaths are the first fatalities in the race’s 65 years, the sponsor said. Racing boats are required to use lights at night, Iverson said, although the boats are not inspected unless a competitor suspects a problem and tells race officials. The race attracts sailors of all skills, including some who are new to long distances. “You get world-class sailors and you get first-timers. That’s the good thing about it. … It’s kind of a safety-in-numbers thing,” said Lamb, who has worked safety patrol for eight years.

The Newport Beach Patch website posted a photo of the Aegean’s crew at the start of the race Friday. Four men in royal blue T-shirts are on the deck as the boat cuts through calm waters. A total of 213 boats were registered, and the winner, Robert Lane of Long Beach Yacht Club, finished Saturday in 23 hours, 26 minutes, 40 seconds. A small crowd gathered in the morning fog at an Ensenada marina to watch the remaining boats finish Sunday morning. A notice tacked to a bulletin board alongside the racing times informed spectators of the tragedy.

The deaths come two weeks after five sailors died in the waters off Northern California when their 38-foot yacht was hit by powerful waves, smashed into rocks and capsized during a race. Three sailors survived the wreck and the body of another was quickly recovered. Four remained missing until one body was recovered Thursday.

The accident near the Farallon Islands, about 27 miles west of San Francisco, prompted the Coast Guard to temporarily stop races in ocean waters outside San Francisco Bay. The Coast Guard said the suspension will allow it and the offshore racing community to study the accident and race procedures to determine whether changes are needed to improve safety. U.S. Sailing, the governing body of yacht racing, is leading the safety review, which is expected to be completed within the next month.

In 1979, a freak storm in the Irish Sea led to the deaths of 15 sailors in the Fastnet Race. In the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race off Australia, a storm with hurricane-force winds struck the fleet in the Bass Strait, sinking several boats and killing six sailors.

Gary Jobson, president of the U.S. Sailing Association, said there have been too many accidents during races in the past year, and that the association is working to make the sport safer. “I’m horrified. I’ve done a lot of sailboat racing and I’ve hit logs in the water, and I’ve seen a man go overboard, but this takes the whole thing to a new level,” Jobson said. “We need to take a step back and take a deep breath with what we’re doing. Something is going wrong here.” Jobson said U.S. Sailing will appoint an independent panel to investigate the Ensenada incident, as it has done in the Farallon Islands accident. Article thanks to the Associated Press.




Only a few days ago, I was having lunch with some friends and the “Low speed chase” tragedy filtered into the conversation. He stated that t seemed almost inevitable  that something bad would happen during the Bermuda Race. Great efforts are made to assure all participant’s safety.

He expressed the desire to see a panel convened to review and perhaps set new standards for safety at sea before another tragedy.  It seems as though time has accelerated.

I suggested that there was no need to re-invent the wheel. The RYA  yachtsman courses (in England) has a program set up in several levels and could provide a very good template.

Perhaps now is a good time to start before legislation that may be a knee jerk reaction and containing unintended consequences is proposed.

I have participated in a number of courses both here and in England. The courses are improving all the time. A little story about one of these courses may illustrate a problem that cannot be legislated. I was in a pool with my assigned group having just inflated our life raft. The goal of our exercise was to make sure our team was safe. One of our team was incapable of getting into the raft. I organized for the strongest of our group to help the team member into the raft while I acted as a counterbalanced the raft. We could not get the individual into the raft no matter what we did and remember we are in a swimming pool.

I have often been faced with decisions with rather or not to sail on certain boats and there are times when I have declined to sail on a boat for one reason or another; the condition of the boat, predicted weather, who comprised the crew.


death, again

Newport Ocean Sailing Association (NOSA) officials learned late Saturday that three sailors in their Newport to Ensenada offshore race had died in an apparent collision with a large vessel several miles off the coast near the border.

Theo Mavromatis is the owner and skipper of the sailboat Aegean, a Hunter 376 representing the Little Ships Fleet club, but it was not known if he was one of the victims. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter led Vessel Assist to two bodies and later retrieved another. None of the bodies had been identified. A crew list was not immediately available, nor was it known how many other crew may have been on the boat, which is usually sailed by five or more persons.

The first indication of the incident was at 1:30 a.m. Saturday when the boat’s image vanished from the online race tracking system in place for the race. A Coast Guard search was launched that led to discovery of the boat’s wreckage, including the rear transom with the boat’s name on it.

An investigation was continuing, but it appeared the damage was not inflicted by an explosion but by a collision with a ship much larger than the 37-foot vessel.

The race started off Newport Beach in mid-day Friday and many boats finished in Ensenada Saturday, with the last ones due in Sunday. Weather conditions were lighter than normal at the time and place of the incident, with boats reporting winds of only 1 or 2 knots.

These would be the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race, in which as many as 675 boats have competed in 1983 and 213 were entered this year. Discussion here.