Team finds missing keel of capsized sailboat

June 19, 2008 1:31:02 PM PDT
The missing keel of the Cynthia Woods sailboat was found in 113 feet of water Thursday, nearly two weeks after the vessel capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during a regatta. A recovery crew, contracted by investigators from the Texas A&M University System, found the keel on the second day of its search in 4 feet of mud about 32 miles off Freeport, officials said.

Investigators hope the keel will hold answers to the questions surrounding the sinking of the 38-foot sailboat, which stranded five sailors at sea for 26 hours. A sixth crew member died.

The recovery team, which located the keel using underwater acoustic equipment, will work with the U.S. Coast Guard on recovery and inspection of the keel. The Texas A&M University System and the Coast Guard are investigating the sinking.

The Cynthia Woods capsized on the night of June 6 in the Gulf of Mexico while competing in the Regata de Amigos, a sailing race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. The crew included four students and two safety officers.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued the four students and one of the safety officers early on June 8 reportedly 27 miles off the Texas coast near Freeport. The body of the second safety officer, Roger Stone, was found that afternoon aboard the boat.

Officials think the keel of the vessel came off shortly after the race began, filling the boat with water and causing it to overturn.

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