Chicago (CBS) — Weeks after the boats set sail in the Race to Mackinac, and after the body of 53-year-old Jon Santarelli was recovered, the Chicago Yacht Club is expanding its investigation into how the experienced sailor died.
Santarelli fell overboard during the race on July 21, but the auto-inflatable life vest he was wearing never inflated.
Related: Body Of Missing Sailor Found
CBS 2’s detailed efforts to find out why the vest malfunctioned have stalled because the vest was destroyed as part of Santarelli’s cremation.
Rear Commodore Nick Berberian announced Monday the club has spent hundreds of hours reviewing interviews, equipment failure rates and consulting with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Sailing.
“We have people with experience from the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race,” Berberian said.
Avid sailor Eric Frisvold said this investigation is something sailors across the region are watching closely.
“U.S. Sailing does a great job with these investigations and they incorporate their learning into training,” Frisvold said.
The yacht club is also sending out a warning to thousands of sailors, including the most experienced ones with auto-inflatable life vests, to properly maintain them, periodically inspect them and replace them if necessary.
Amongst other things the Yacht Club is now looking into is how sailors care for that equipment.
“There’s probably not as much emphasis on care and maintenance as there should be,” Berberian said.
The yacht club’s investigation continues with a comprehensive report due out early next year.