What was intended to be a fun night of sailing turned deadly as one person was killed and another seriously injured when their sailboat collided with a channel marker buoy in the Bay near Redwood City, authorities said Thursday.
Police investigators continued to search for clues into Wednesday night’s crash that caused the mast of a 42-foot-long Catalina sailboat named “Bella” to snap completely off and injure two of four occupants onboard during a noncompetitive race along the shores near Redwood City, Lt. Sean Hart said.
“We’re not sure if they were struck when the mast snapped off or they were injured by the jolt of the impact from the collision,” Hart said Thursday.
The San Mateo County Coroner’s office identified the dead victim as Yong Sun, 39, of Burlingame. Sun and another injured man were guests of the sailboat’s owner, said Winston Bumpus, a commodore with the Sequoia Yacht Club, which sponsored the race.
A U.S. Geological Survey boat that was nearby rescued the sailboat crew then docked at the Port of Redwood City, Hart said. Sun was pronounced dead at the scene, and another man was hospitalized in serious condition with a head injury, Hart said. The injured man’s name has not been released.
The event was the kickoff to the yacht club’s annual “Beer Can” races held Wednesday nights from April through October, Bumpus said. The races allow people new to sailboat racing to learn about the sport and give experienced racers and their crews a chance to practice. The “Beer Can” name of the races is misleading, Bumpus added, because drinking is frowned upon and discouraged while racing.
Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the fatal accident and the sailboat’s owner passed a sobriety test, Hart said.
Both Hart and Bumpus said weather conditions also were not a factor in the accident.
“From what we’re gathering, it was a great night for boating,” Hart said. “At this point, it appears to be a tragic accident.”
The weekly races have been suspended indefinitely to allow members time to grieve as the yacht club also is celebrating its 75th anniversary, Bumpus said.
“We’re devastated,” Bumpus said. “We’re going to just take it one day at a time.”