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Update: Search Continues for Missing Sailing Student

The man was swept overboard when the 23-foot-sailboat was hit by yesterday's severe storm.

The search is still ongoing for the sailing student who fell overboard during a fierce squall Sunday afternoon on Long Island Sound near Larchmont.

"We had a helicopter back at first light. We had boats that searched through the night. We will continue unil the case is resolved," said Charles Rowe, public information officer for the U.S. Coast Guard New York Station.

The 30-year-old man, two other people and an instructor were having a sailing lesson when the front hit, sweeping him and the instructor overboard, reports said.  The instructor got back to the boat and threw a flotation device to the man, who disappeared from view in the torrential rain and wind.

The flotation device was recovered, reports said.

The boat was a  23-foot Sonar, Rowe said.

When the freak thunderstorm blew through, bringing wind gusts of 40 knots and sustained winds of 30 knots, the Coast Guard and local agencies were deluged with calls. 

"The rain was so heavy that visibility was, in truth, at zero," said Rowe. There were nine Mayday calls and  many other boats in distress, who were helped by Coast Guard vessels sent out from Long Island and Staten Island, he said.

The USCG had issued a warning right before the squall hit.

"This thing came up suddenly," Rowe said. "It was so fast that even though the Coast Guard issued an emergency notice telling everyone to seek safe haven, not everyone was able to do so."

All but one Mayday call were resolved, he said; early reports of a second boater overboard in the western Sound proved erroneous.

The Larchmont Fire Department set up a command post at the Larchmont Yacht Club, which was not the marina from which the Sonar came.

Every possible agency responded to the report that someone had fallen off a sailboat. Searchers included not only the Westchester County Aviation Unit but also a USCG search and rescue helicopter from Atlantic City, as well as  the New York harbor police, the Mamaroneck harbor police, New Rochelle police and even Sea Tow, said Larchmont fire Capt. John Caparelli.

The Larchmont Yacht Club provided one of its launches to take two firefighters out to search, and a club member took two more out on his own boat.

"We had one fire engine at the Larchmont Shore Club and a second at the Horseshoe Harbor Boat Club, where we could get a good view," Caparelli said.

The spotters on the shore directed searchers toward objects in the water, without success.

Shoreline coordination passed to the New Rochelle emergency responders about four hours later, as the current and tides in the Sound moved southeast. Helicopters were called off as night fell, but resumed this morning, Rowe said.

 

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