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Sailboat capsizes in Newport Harbor

September 11, 2001

Deepa Bharath

NEWPORT BEACH -- Things got a little unruly in Newport Harbor on

Monday evening when harbor patrol officials tried to rescue two teenagers

who fell in when their sailboat capsized.

Although no one was hurt, the harbor patrol's efforts to get the boys

out of the water and straighten the boat were hindered by Rupert, the

local black swan who, harbor patrol officials say, identifies with their

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boats.

"He'll flap his wings and even get aggressive sometimes," Sgt. Ron

Peoples said.

On Monday, Rupert pecked at the two teenagers while they struggled to

get their 17-foot Hunter rental sailboat back up, he said.

The boat capsized behind the docks off the Chart House Restaurant in

the 2800 block of West Coast Highway about 5:53 p.m.

People having dinner watched out the restaurant's bay-side windows in

amusement as the harbor patrol deputies assisted the two young men.

"Usually in such cases, if the people are not hurt and can swim, we

ask them to assist us," Peoples said. "They put a line on the [capsized]

boat and then get the guys in the water to go on the opposite side and

flip the boat over."

He said the water was 17 to 20 feet deep in that area. The names of

the two teenagers were not available, but Peoples said they worked for a

local sailboat rental company.

He said these incidents are pretty common in Newport Beach, with a

number of yacht clubs offering sailboat classes.

"It's common more so in the summer," Peoples said.

Tom O'Loughlin, a Newport Beach resident who watched the episode from

the restaurant, said he has seen sailboats tip over several times.

"Yeah, it's a common accident," he said. "It happens a lot when you're

trying to take sharp turns. But these kids weren't struggling. They

seemed to be OK."

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