1 dead, 5 rescued from US racing sailboat accident

San Diego: A sailor died and five others were rescued after abandoning a racing boat that lost its steering capability and drifted to an island off Southern California, where it was broken apart by crashing waves.

The Coast Guard says the crew issued a mayday call last night after the 9-metre sailboat's rudder failed and the craft began drifting toward the rocky shore of San Clemente Island.

Petty Officer Connie Gawrelli says the crew declined assistance from the Coast Guard and requested a tow boat. However, rough seas kept that boat from reaching them.

An organiser of the Islands Race says the crew encountered more bad luck when attempts to deploy a life raft and anchor the boat failed.

Gawrelli said the accident occurred amid 2.4-metre swells and strong winds.