Chicago Man Among Bay Area Yacht Crash Survivors

James Bradford, 41, was one of three crew members whom the U.S. Coast Guard pulled from one of the Farallon Islands

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Organizers for a yacht race that resulted in a fatal boating accident Saturday were still waiting last night for word on the fate of some race participants. One person was dead and three others were still missing Saturday after the Low Speed Chase, a 38-foot yacht, ran aground in the Farallon Islands during the 2012 Full Crew Farallones Race.

    A Chicago man was among the survivors of a yacht crew thrown from their boat over the weekend during a race off Northern California.

    James Bradford, 41, was one of three crew members whom the U.S. Coast Guard pulled from one of the Farallon Islands about 300 feet from their damaged vessel, said Ed Lynch, director of San Francisco Yacht Club.

    Bradford is the owner and captain of Low Speed Chase, which was hit by powerful waves that forced it onto rocks during Saturday's Full Crew Farallones Race.

    The body of one crew member was pulled from the water hours after the accident. The search for four others thrown from their boat was indefinitely suspended, with the Coast Guard saying the "window of survivability" had passed.

    The San Francisco Yacht Club identified the four as Alan Cahill, of Tiburon, Calif.; Jordan Fromm, of San Rafael, Calif.; Elmer Morrissey, of Ireland; Alexis Busch, of Larkspur, Calif.

    "The tragedy is incredibly difficult to deal with," Lynch said early Monday.

    Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said a C-130 plane, helicopters, three Coast Guard cutters and a smaller boat searched a 5,000-square-mile area with no success.

    "Making this kind of decision to call off the search and rescue is never an easy decision," the officer said.

    Lynch said the confirmed death was the first known fatality in the 143-year history of the San Francisco Yacht Club, which managed the race for the Offshore Yacht Racing Association and where the yacht involved in the accident, the 38-foot Low Speed Chase, was based.

    A century-old tradition, the Full Crew Farallones Race has never been for the faint of heart: Winds averaging 10 to 20 knots and churning 14-foot Pacific Ocean swells are among the rough conditions typically braved by yachts and their crews during the daylong regatta, a spring favorite of skilled sailors.

    But on Saturday, powerful waves and a disastrous series of events brought rare tragedy to the august race and the San Francisco Bay area's large sailing community.

    Two strong waves swept them from their boat near the rocky islands, the halfway point of the 54-mile race that began at daybreak in San Francisco and had 49 entrants.