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Sailors remember two Irishmen drowned in yacht race tragedy

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TERRIBLE LOSS: Alan Cahill, with his wife Shannon

TERRIBLE LOSS: Alan Cahill, with his wife Shannon

TERRIBLE LOSS: Alan Cahill, with his wife Shannon

AN emotional memorial was held on Friday evening for two Irishmen and their fellow sailors who drowned in a boat tragedy off the coast of San Francisco.

The first race of the season for the San Francisco Yacht Club was an opportunity for members to come together to remember their lost friends.

About 200 sailors held a minute's silence before the race and afterwards gathered at the club house to remember Alan Cahill, 36, and Elmer Morrissey, 32, both from Cork, and the three others who perished when their boat was bombarded by waves last Saturday.

Alan Cahill's friend and neighbour, Ed Lynch, said: "It was really emotional out there. We held the minute's silence and then I don't think anyone said a word for about another 15 minutes after that. We just all sailed off in silence with our own thoughts.

"It's been good to be able to do this, to come together and talk about what happened and remember Alan and everyone else. He was such a popular guy. This race is exactly what those guys would have wanted. If they were here now they would want to be out there and they would have wanted us to get out there.

"In a way, they were with us. Everybody had photographs up of them in the boats and this was our chance to remember them."

Alan's wife Shannon has travelled to Ireland to spend time with his family. She hopes to organise a memorial to him on her return.

The pair were married in 2010, having met at the San Francisco Yacht Club regatta. They lived in the affluent neighbourhood of Tiburon, in the shadow of Angel Island and overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. In a brief statement last week she said: "Alan's two children were a constant source of joy in his life."

She described Alan's "quick wit and thick brogue" and how they had enjoyed sailing and travelling, adding: "We shared a number of adventures in the short time we had."

Alan and Elmer died when their boat got into difficulties while rounding the Farallon Islands, about 20 miles from the coast. A series of powerful waves broadsided their yacht, Low Speed Chase, knocking crew members overboard.

The coastguard immediately began searching but called off the rescue mission when the "window of survival" was deemed to have closed on Monday. Rescuers said a combination of the cold, powerful waves and treacherous currents meant there was no chance of the stricken sailors being found alive.

Sunday Independent