Powerboat pilot killed after wave causes craft to flip over

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The Independent Online

An emotional tribute was paid yesterday to a powerboat pilot who died after his boat overturned during a race.

Ian Stirling, 59, from St Austell, Cornwall, died on Saturday after his boat hit a wave during the European and British Powerboat Championships in Harwich, Essex. Yesterday around 50 powerboats went to the scene of the accident where flowers were laid on the water and a minute's silence was held. John Puddifoot, powerboat racing manager of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), described the tribute as "very moving".

The powerboats were led out by a police boat, past watching crowds, and formed a circle close to the crash scene. A RYA spokeswoman said a chequered flag was raised to signal a minute's silence. Flowers were then laid as a tribute to Mr Stirling and the larger boats fired up their engines to roar a salute.

Mr Puddifoot said: "Mr Stirling was a highly experienced pilot with 25 years of powerboat racing at a European and world championship level.

"He is going to be greatly missed within the powerboat racing family. Our deepest condolences go to Mr Stirling's partner and family."

An RYA spokeswoman said Mr Stirling was competing in the European Championships for offshore powerboat Class 2 litre/3c, when his boat – named N Class Fabrications – hit a wave, throwing the two people aboard into the water. A crewman sustained injuries and was recovering in hospital, she said. Officers from the Essex Police marine unit were investigating and liaising with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), a police spokeswoman said. "Around 4pm on Saturday afternoon a powerboat appears to have flipped over. Two other boats stopped to help but sadly one man has died. The other man has been taken to hospital in Colchester."

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said Mr Stirling suffered a head injury and was confirmed dead at the scene.

The RYA will conduct an inquiry into the accident and a post-mortem examination will take place this week.

The final day of the three-day European and British National Powerboat championships was cancelled yesterday although some Thundercat racing and other entertainment continued.