Sailboat sinks during Whitebread race, crew rescued by fellow racers

The Suffolk Times. By Paul Squire:

A 28-foot sailboat participating in Saturday’s 21st annual Whitebread race sank off the coast of Shelter Island during rough seas this morning, the U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed. 

All four crew aboard the boat Optimistic — including owner and skipper Bill Archer — were pulled from the water unharmed by other sailing vessels that quit the race to rescue them, race officials said.

Optimistic began taking on water near the MOA buoy off Ram’s Head in Gardiners Bay and sent out a distress call about 11:15 a.m. that was picked up by a Douglass Marine employee, the company confirmed.

When the employee attempted to contact Optimistic again, there was no reply.

Douglass Marine contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which had not heard the distress call, and sent boats out to the scene to rescue anyone in the rough seas.

About that time, Mahlon Russell and his crew aboard Sea Breeze were rounding Shelter Island and were about 1,000 yards away when they saw Optimistic in distress.

“They were flooding and sinking,” he said. “The people were scampering to the front of the boat. It was going down stern first.”

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