The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating yesterday’s collision that damaged the arch and perhaps parts of the superstructure atop the 161-foot Trinity Rockstar (ex-Blind Date) at the Broad Causeway drawbridge in South Florida.
“The engineers are working under the assumption that the hydraulic system on the bridge failed, and the west side of the bridge started to come down as the yacht was coming through,” said Jorge Pino, spokesman for the FFWCC, which is responsible for investigating collisions involving private vessels on public waterways. “The yacht did nothing wrong. It was not under power. It was under the control of two tugboats, and they were in the right. They were making right decisions. All indications are that they did nothing wrong and the bridge mechanically faltered.”
Broad Causeway is a 63-year-old private bridge owned by the town of Bay Harbor Islands in Miami-Dade County. The town has been considering repairs for the past six years, and in 2010, a report by the Florida Department of Transportation called the bridge “functionally obsolete,” according to reports in the Miami Tribune and Miami Herald.
This past September, the Bay Harbor Islands Town Council approved an $11.5 million contract to begin 18 months’ worth of repairs beginning in January 2015. Work was to have included replacing guardrails, fenders and cabling, and stripping support columns to metal and refurbishing them with high-grade concrete, according to the Tribune and Herald.
Rockstar is a 2009 build with a Patrick Knowles interior that won a World Superyacht Award Judges Special Commendation in 2010. She is currently owned by 44-year-old Russell Weiner, the son of conservative radio host Michael Savage. In 2001, Weiner founded Rockstar, an energy drink that contains 62 grams of sugar and 160 milligrams of caffeine per can and that, according to Bloomberg, has annual retail sales of about $780 million as America’s third-biggest energy drink brand.
Weiner was not on board at the time of the incident, nor were any guests, according to a knowledgeable source who is familiar with the area and the yacht. Only the normal complement of crew were on board, including both the yacht’s outgoing and incoming captains, who were on standby as the two tugboats moved the boat through the drawbridge opening. Nobody was injured.
“It’s very shallow there, and almost every big boat goes through under tow to limit liability,” the source told Yachting. “There was nothing wrong with the boat. There are news stations reporting that the boat was incapacitated or damaged beforehand. It’s not true. The bridge fell on the boat.”
Rockstar is managed by International Yacht Collection, which offers her for charter in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean at a weekly base rate of $238,000 for 12 guests with 10 crew. The yacht’s next charter booking was scheduled for Christmas, in about three weeks. While the damage is reportedly repairable, it is unclear whether it can be fixed in time for that booking.
Pino said the FFWCC’s four-page investigative report will likely take a couple of weeks to complete.