On June 6, 2008, the Cynthia Woods, a Cape Fear 38 owned by Texas A&M University-Galveston, was racing to Veracruz, Mexico, when her keel fell off and she capsized. Tragically, Roger Stone, the team’s safety officer, drowned after helping two students to safety.
In late December, the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit (MSU) in Galveston, Texas, with guidance from the U.S. Coast Guard, released a detailed investigative report that included extensive interviews, hull-core samples, examination of the keel and keel bolts, and more than 1,150 photographs.
The report concluded that damage from previous groundings—and not manufacturer fault—led to the tragedy. According to the report, Cynthia Woods had not been properly inspected or surveyed following several previous groundings, and no major repair work had been done after these incidents.
The report also noted that the boat’s EPIRB and life raft were improperly stored. “The Coast Guard hopes that this investigation reminds institutions and individuals of the importance of properly maintaining their vessels and the proper placement of survival equipment,” said Commander Jim Elliott, commanding officer of MSU Galveston.