Tragedy struck the 40th anniversary of the Regata de Amigos, a 610-mile race from Galveston, Texas to Veracruz, Mexico, when one of the race boats sank. The sailboat Cynthia Woods, a Cape Fear 38R owned by Texas A&M University, foundered 11 nm south of Matagorda on June 6. The boat began taking on water at about 2345 and within seconds capsized. Search and rescue commenced after communication was lost and the boat missed its 0800 radio call. Five of the boat’s six crewmembers escaped and were rescued by the Coast Guard after an exhaustive 26-hour search about 23 miles from Freeport, Texas. A sixth crewmember perished.
The cause of the sinking is thought to be keel failure. Divers found the keel 32 miles off Freeport using acoustic equipment. The hull went down about 27 miles off Freeport. Officials from Texas A&M vowed to spare no expense to determine the cause of the accident that sunk the donated boat. The university has contracted T&T Marine Salvage to recover the hull.
Cynthia Woods had a history of grounding. It is reported that the boat ran aground between three and seven times since it was given to the university in 2005. A 2007 grounding was significant enough to separate the keel from the hull fore and aft.
After the grounding the boat was repaired by the same yard that assembled the boat when it was donated, but it is not clear whether or not a marine surveyor used ultrasound to inspect the work. While there was no annual inspection of the boat, at least three people, including a painter and a diver cleaning the hull before the regatta, noted no damage.
As a precaution, a sister vessel has been taken out of commission. The accident is under investigation by Texas A&M University and the U.S. Coast Guard.