Sailors faced risky conditions during fatal boat race

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SAN DIEGO – Sailor described the conditions they faced during a boat race off San Clemente Island where a San Diego man died.

John Laun, who is rear commodore with the San Diego Yacht Club, was on the 139-mile race course from Long Beach to San Diego Friday night. He said the winds were strong following the front that came through in the afternoon.

“It was a boisterous night,” Laun said. “In those conditions, it was hard to steer because there was plenty of breeze and the waves were confused.”

Craig Williams, 36, was killed and five other crew members were rescued when the sailboat “Uncontrollable Urge” was torn apart in rough seas Friday evening.

As the race progressed to the back side of San Clemente Island, Williams and the crew aboard Uncontrollable Urge ran into trouble.

“The weather on the side of either San Clemente or Catalina Islands can be treacherous,” said Captain Roger Smith, who has plenty of experience sailing.

Initially, the crew called in rudder failure, but declined any help, according to officials.

“They’re all very experienced – had been involved in offshore distance races – certainly experienced crew,” Laun said.

The crew continued to struggle, trying to anchor a few times, but also failed, officials said.  Rough waters combined with equipment failure is risky, Smith said.

“Eminent danger is there and it’s a dangerous situation,” Smith said.  “If you have no propulsion, you’re dead in the water. It’s very dangerous.”

The Uproarius crew and Silver Gate Yacht Club has started a memorial fund to support the family. Todonate find out more details here.