Yacht accident survivor wants more focus on safety

Apr 25, 2012, 10:01 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A survivor of the fatal grounding of a racing yacht on rocky islands west of San Francisco is calling on the sailing community to make safety a higher priority.

In a lengthy letter posted online (
http://bit.ly/JqIlHH) Tuesday, Bryan Chong, 38, offered a detailed account of what happened the day the sailboat Low Speed Chase wrecked during an April 14 race around the Farallon Islands.

“Hopefully this incident will spur a wider discussion of sailboat safety,” Chong wrote in the lengthy letter published on several sailing blogs, including Sailing Anarchy, Seahorse and Latitude38. “I truly consider myself lucky to have a second chance at life with my wife and 8-week-old son.”

Chong, of Belvedere, is one of three crew members who survived after a monster wave slammed into the 38-foot sailboat. One member was found dead that day and four remain missing at sea.

San Francisco police said Tuesday they found no evidence of criminal negligence in the accident, calling it a terrible tragedy. The district attorney’s office reviewed the police department’s findings and agreed.

Chong said there were no signs of danger when the Low Speed Chase began the Full Crew Farallones race to the islands 27 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The crew was relaxed and ocean conditions didn’t seem abnormal until suddenly the boat was hit by the biggest wave he had ever seen. “A single thought races through my head: `This is going to be bad,'” he wrote.

The wave knocked Chong and six of his crewmates into the frigid water and tossed the boat high onto the island’s rocks, where it stayed until it was airlifted to Half Moon Bay on Monday.

“Those 15 minutes in the water were the absolute scariest in my life,” he wrote. “The best way to describe the water in the break zone is a washing machine filled with boulders.”

Chong eventually dragged himself to the rocks where he found crew member Nick Vos and boat owner James Bradford. The three remained there until they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Air National Guard.

He said none of the crew members was tethered to the sailboat, which he called a bad habit that isn’t uncommon among experienced sailors.

“It’s obvious to me now that I should have been clipped into the boat at every possible opportunity,” Chong said. “Crews need to talk as a team about tethering strategies. One person overboard puts the entire crew at risk.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Las Vegas man accused of threats against Jewish U.S. senator and her family is indicted

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a Las Vegas man arrested last month on suspicion of making antisemitic threats against U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen and her family, along with the family of another U.S. senator, according to court records. Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada, is Jewish and has maintained a vocal […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

City Council in Portland, Oregon, approves $2.6M for police body cameras

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The City Council in Portland, Oregon, approved $2.6 million for permanent police body cameras in a unanimous vote, a crucial step toward the city no longer being among the last major U.S. police agencies without the technology. All of the city’s roughly 800 uniformed officers who interact with the public will […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Montana miner backs off expansion plans, lays off 100 due to lower palladium prices

The owner of two precious metals mines in south-central Montana is stopping work on an expansion project and laying off about 100 workers because the price of palladium fell sharply in the past year, mine representatives said Thursday. Sibanye-Stillwater announced the layoffs Wednesday at the only platinum and palladium mines in the United States, near […]

4 hours ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal judge blocks Montana’s first-in-the-nation ban on TikTok, says it’s unconstitutional

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge ruled Thursday that Montana can’t enforce a first-in-the-nation law banning the video sharing app TikTok in the state while a legal challenge to the law moves through the courts. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said the ban “oversteps state power and infringes on the Constitutional right of users […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Yacht accident survivor wants more focus on safety