Mexico Finds Capsized Boat of Missing US Sailor

Mexican Navy spots Baltimore man Donald Lawson's racing yacht off Acapulco
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2023 7:33 AM CDT

A sailboat belonging to a Baltimore man who lost contact with family two weeks ago while sailing home from Mexico has reportedly been spotted capsized some 300 miles off the Mexican coast. A Mexican Navy search plane spotted what is believed to be Donald Lawson's 60-foot trimaran racing yacht Defiant overturned roughly 275 nautical miles off Acapulco but rescue crews have been unable to approach the boat due to poor weather, the Baltimore Banner reports. Lawson, a professional sailor with plans to become the first African American to sail solo around the world in a trimaran this fall, left Acapulco on July 5 to sail home to Baltimore via the Panama Canal, per CBS News.

On July 9, he messaged his wife, Jacqueline, saying he had problems with his hydraulic rigging and would need to rely on a wind generator as he did not have engine power, per CBS. His last contact came three days later when he reported losing the wind generator in a storm. In a statement, Jacqueline Lawson says the family is waiting for confirmation of the sailboat sighting. A tracking feature for Defiant indicates the boat is in roughly the same area as the one spotted by the Navy. A Navy spokesperson said the search plane detected no sign of Lawson, per the Banner. According to the Baltimore Sun, "Defiant was equipped with two life rafts, a position beacon, multiple radios and a survival suit."

The family is "remaining hopeful" of Lawson's return, says Jacqueline Lawson. "He is an experienced sailor who is well-equipped to expertly handle these types of challenging weather conditions in the Pacific. We are continuing to pray that Donald will be found and will soon return home safely to his family, friends, and sailing supporters," she says. Lawson, who first began sailing at the age of 9, is already "well-known for breaking ground in a sport dominated by white men," the Banner reports. He is chairman of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for US Sailing and founder of the Dark Seas Project, a nonprofit that raises awareness about African Americans in the sport. (More missing sailors stories.)

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