The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed five people were missing and dozens were rescued after a number of boats participating in the 57th annual Dauphin Island sailboat race capsized in Mobile Bay Saturday afternoon. According to Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, one man has been confirmed dead.
It’s unclear if the regatta was over around 3:30 p.m. when the severe weather hit, but Collier said boaters were scattered around Mobile Bay at that time. He said the regatta starts and finishes in the middle of the bay. Participants, upon finishing, can either take their boats to Dauphin Island for post-regatta festivities, or head to their home port. Collier said that was the situation this afternoon when the storm hit.
The area was under a severe thunderstorm warning at the time, and the National Weather Service later confirmed reports of wind gusts of 59 miles per hour in Fairhope associated with the fast-moving storm, which also toppled trees and caused several short power outages in Baldwin County.
As the rescue continued later Saturday evening, Petty Officer Carlos Veta said Coast Guard crews have rescued an estimated four dozen people and were currently working 32 different cases.
The Coast Guard released a statement earlier this evening stating it was responding to reports of “several missing people and capsized boats” at approximately 4:30 p.m. According to the statement, severe weather caused the vessels to capsize and left multiple people on the water.
The Coast Guard dispatched two 45-foot response boats, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews, two patrol boats and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry and HH-60 Jayhawk crew.
Veta said he didn’t have names of the five missing people.
There were 119 vessels and at least 200 sailors registered in this year’s regatta, which was hosted by the Fairhope Yacht Club. The Dauphin Island Race is known as the largest one-day, point-to-point sailboat race in the United States.