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US Sailing to Investigate Aegean Crash

The five-member panel will look into why the sailboat was destroyed and three of its crew killed during the annual Newport Beach to Ensenada Yacht Race.

The U.S. Sailing Association, the national governing body for sailing, has appointed an independent review panel to investigate the crash of the Aegean during the annual Newport Beach to Ensenada Yacht Race.

Pieces of the Aegean—a 37-foot Hunter 376—and the bodies of three of its crew were found near the Coronado Islands on April 28. The skipper's body was discovered a week later.

Theo Mavromatis, 49, of Redondo Beach; Kevin Eric Rudolph, 53, of Manhattan Beach; William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance; and Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla. perished in the crash.

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According to a news release from U.S. Sailing, the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego requested the organization convene the review panel, which will work in parallel with the Coast Guard's own investigation.

"The panel will be responsible for researching the factors involved in the accident by reviewing safety policies and procedures, and the usage of safety equipment," wrote U.S. Sailing spokesman Jake Fish. "The panel will determine what lessons can be learned from the accident and present recommendations for future consideration."

The organization anticipates the five-member panel will release its initial findings and recommendations in June.

"We at U.S. Sailing are deeply saddened by the recent tragedy that occurred in the Newport to Ensenada Race," U.S. Sailing President Gary Jobson said in the news release. "We are working with the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego to outline this review strategy, so that we can successfully make factual determinations from the review and present a set of useful recommendations on best safety practices."

The members of the Independent Review Panel are Chairman Bruce Brown of Costa Mesa, Calif.; John Winder of Annisquam, Mass.; Alan Andrews of Corona del Mar, Calif.; Ed Adams of Middletown, R.I.; and Alan McMillan of Pensacola, Fla. Additionally, Milford, Conn. resident Evans Starzinger will serve as the offshore special regulations consultant; Santa Cruz, Calif. resident Chuck Hawley will serve as the Safety at Sea Committee's chair and review panel liaison; and Annapolis, Md. resident Jim Wildey will advise on investigation procedures and formats, according to U.S. Sailing.

Dr. Michael Jacobs of Vineyard Haven, Mass. and Dr. Kent Benedict of Aptos, Calif. will serve on the panel as medical advisors.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact U.S. Sailing at ensenadareview@ussailing.org.

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