While the , a Redondo Beach-based yacht that may have collided with a larger ship while competing in a race from Newport Beach to Mexico, one of the registered crewmen is safe at home on his boat in King Harbor.
Mike Patton told Redondo Beach Patch that his mother took ill, so he backed out of the annual Lexus Newport Beach to Ensenada Yacht Race at the last minute.
"Everyone's been saying I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Patton said. "I don't feel that way."
The bodies of three members of the crew—Bill Johnson of Torrance; Joe Stewart of Bradenton, Fla.; and Kevin Rudolph—were discovered tethered to the boat wreckage Saturday, and the search for the boat's owner and skipper, Theo Mavromatis, was called off Sunday afternoon.
Patton speculated that Mavromatis went down with the Aegean.
"Theo's a tremendous skipper," he said, adding that the sailboat's owner was almost "fanatical" about safety.
"That was the safest crew I've ever seen, almost to the point of ridiculousness," Patton said. "I know that boat intimately, and there's no way it should have happened."
He described the other crewmen as confident men who "all worked really well together."
The team of Mavromatis, Patton, Johnson, Stewart and Rudolph aboard the Aegean won last year's Newport Beach to Ensenada race. It was Johnson's first race, Patton said.
"They're all good," he said. "There's not someone who didn't know what they were doing."
Patton can't help but wonder if his presence would have made the boat sail 10 seconds faster or slower, thus avoiding the collision—which, in his opinion, never should have happened.
"I know those waters," he said. "I know where they were. I’ve been there. I know there's traffic there, but it's not that heavy.
"This is just horrendous."