Charles Segal, an avid sailor and sailboat salesman, died after falling overboard during the opening night of the California Yacht Club Sunset Series regatta out of Marina del Rey Wednesday, April 20th.

He was 46 years old.

Segal, who lived in Los Angeles, fell overboard from a 24-foot sailboat about one mile west of the Marina breakwater.

County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol officers responded at 6:40 p.m.

Segal was taken to the Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center Marina Campus — the former Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital — on Lincoln Boulevard, where he was pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m.

The initial cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning, but an investigation is ongoing, according to the county coroner’s office.

Segal was a longtime member of the California Yacht Club.

“He was a great family person and a very friendly and likable guy,” said Steve Hathaway, California Yacht Club spokesman. “He was an excellent sailor.

“He was well known around the Marina as a sailor.”

California Yacht Club members are “very distraught” over the incident, which was the first death during a racing event hosted by the club, Hathaway said.

“We’re still very much in shock,” he said.

Segal had been a salesman for Catalina Yacht Anchorage, a sailboat dealer at 13505 Bali Way in the Marina, since 1989.

Paul Garnett, Catalina Yacht Anchorage manager, said Segal had sailed his entire life.

“He was extremely knowledgeable and detail-oriented in the business of sailboats,” Garnett said.

As the top salesman for Catalina Yacht Anchorage, Segal created much more than a business relationship with his customers, Garnett said.

“He was extremely caring about his customers’ welfare,” Garnett said. “He was of colossal assistance to customers.

“They all became friends and were no longer just customers.”

The California Yacht Club Sunset Series runs Wednesday evenings from April 20th until September 7th, except for August 17th.

The conditions of the sea during the opening night racing event started out moderate but became rough as the wind increased, according to some sailors who participated in the event.

“It was moderate at the start but the breeze picked up,” Hathaway said.

Garnett was competing on the same sailboat as Segal and two other sailors.

While Garnett said the conditions were windier further out in the bay, it didn’t appear that the weather conditions had any effect in causing Segal to fall off the boat.

“It was definitely not like he was thrown off the boat because of the violent conditions,” Garnett said.

When Segal fell backwards into the water he began to tread with his head above the water, according to a witness.

The sailboat crew immediately turned to pick him up and Garnett jumped in the water to assist Segal, who was still conscious.

But as the sailboat came to assist, the crew was unable to lift Segal aboard.

Lifeguards responded to the scene with Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol deputies of the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Hiram Komoto said Segal was unconscious when officers responded.

Lifeguards pulled Segal onto a County Fire Department rescue boat to initiate CPR and took Segal to the dock.

Segal was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Segal is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and four children.

Funeral services for Segal were held Tuesday, April 26th, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Westwood.

A trust fund has been established for Segal’s children. Donations can be made to The Segal Children’s Trust Fund and sent to C/O Farmers & Merchants Bank, 1220 Katella Ave., Orange, CA. 92867