Belfast Telegraph

Two feared dead in US yacht tragedy

Two Irish sailors are feared drowned after being thrown overboard during a yacht race off California.

Three of the crew on the 38ft (11.6m) Low Speed Chase were rescued after large waves hit the fleet as they rounded South Farallon Island, off San Francisco, on Saturday.

The body of one sailor was recovered but two others were missing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said consular staff in San Francisco were liaising with the US Coast Guard. Other officials were liaising with the families of the two men, understood to be from Cork.

The US Coast Guard said the accident happened when 12ft (3.7m) waves hit boats as they rounded the sparsely populated islands, about 30 miles (48km) west of San Francisco. One large wave is believed to have swept some of the Low Speed Chase's crew overboard and the boat was thrown on to rocks after it turned to try to rescue them.

The missing Irish sailors have been named as Alan Cahill, who has been living in Tiburon in California for many years and his friend Elmer Morrissey, who had travelled to the US on a visit.

The US Coast Guard called off the search for remaining survivors after covering more than 5,000 square miles of ocean over more than 30 hours.

Mr Cahill is understood to be a married father of two and an experienced yacht race sailor, originally from Blarney.

Ed Lynch, director of the San Francisco Yacht Club where the boat sailed from, said the fleet had been hit by a series of very large waves.

"This was an experienced crew who raced together often," he said. "The sailing community is tight-knit, and this is being felt around the world. This is just a terrible tragedy for everyone."

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