A 38-foot racing and cruising sailboat crashed after four people fell overboard during the Farallones Full Crews Race. After the four were washed overboard in the boat accident, the vessel tried to turn around to pick them up. Then another wave smashed the boat into the rocks and washed three more overboard.
The Coast Guard searched a 15- by 30-mile area, but was only able to rescue three of the people. They later found the body of another crew member. The Coast Guard called off the search 12 hours after the window of survivability closed.
The sailboat had a crew of eight people. It was one of the 49 yachts that were racing in the Farallones Full Crews Race. The race is held around South Farallon Island, just offshore from San Francisco. The three sailors that were rescued by the Coast Guard were shaken up and taken to the hospital. They did not have serious injuries, except one man, who had a fractured leg.
According to a Coast Guard spokesperson, the length of time a person survives in a boat accident such as this depends on what the person was wearing and how fit the person is. The person's size also figures into the equation.
The spokesperson had earlier said the prospects for surviving frigid ocean waters or holding onto the rocky shoals and cliffs of the Farallones depended on the missing sailors' physical fitness, size and clothing. The sailors that were rescued were all wearing cold weather gear and inflatable life vests.
Source: Reuters, "Search halted for 4 missing after California yacht race," Emmet Berg, April 16, 2012