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Newport, RI Fatal Yacht Race Accident, Jul 1903




This Is the First Time in the History of American 90-Footers That a Fatal Accident Has Occurred, Races Called Off.

Newport, R. I., July 2.--For the first time in the history of American 90-footers a fatal accident occurred today, Carl B. Olsen, a seaman on the old cup defender, Columbia, was washed from the bowsprit just before the yacht reached the first turn in today's race and was drowned. When the yacht lifted from the big wave into which she had plunged Olsen was seen almost under the stem, clinging to the bobstay,. but before assistance could be given him the sloop dropped into another great comber and he was not seen afterward.


Captain Miller of the Columbia thinks that Olsen was struck by the overhang of the craft as it came smashing down and knocked insensible. The Columbia came into the wind instantly. Two life buoys were thrown into the water and the tender was put overboard as quickly as possible. Two men jumped into the tender and rowed around for 20 minutes ready to pick Olsen up if he came to the surface. Three sailors swarmed up the mast and watched closely from the spreaders for some signs of the unfortunate man, but without success. Out of respect to the dead man the Columbia withdrew from the race.

Races Called Off.

At 9 o'clock the committee posted the following bulletin at the club station "The Newport series for 90 footers will not be finished."

There will be no more racing until the yachts start on the New York Yacht club's cruise. Today's race was also marred by a mishap to the Constitution. Soon after the start she carried away the jaws of her gaff and the great steel spar, swinging forward, buckled in the center. The mainsail was ripped clear across several times and rendered practically worthless. It was the best mainsail the boat had spread this season, and was the third that had been tried this year.

Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, MT 3 Jul 1903

article | by Dr. Radut