Boat wrecked in race may have been hit

May 1, 2012 at 1:33 AM

SAN DIEGO, May 1 (UPI) -- The sailboat wrecked during a race from Newport, Calif., to Ensenada, Mexico, may have been hit by a larger vessel investigators say.

Pieces of The Aegean have been recovered, along with the bodies of three of its crew. The San Diego County Medical Examiner reported Monday that William Reed Johnson, 57, of Torrance, Calif., and Kevin Rudolph, 57, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., were killed by blunt force injuries, while Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla., drowned, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Theo Mavromatis, the skipper, is missing and the search for his body has been suspended.

Brad Avery, director of Orange Coast College's School of Sailing & Seamanship in Newport Beach, said a freighter or tanker could have struck the smaller boat without realizing it.

"It's every small boater's worst nightmare," he said.

The wreckage and bodies were found west of the Coronado Islands in an area used by vessels heading to Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Newport-Ensenada race has been held annually for 65 years. These are the first fatalities.

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