A 42-year-old delivery skipper was swept overboard

A 42-year-old delivery skipper, David Clear, from Fishbourne, Chichester died in the English Channel after falling overboard from Past Time, a Maxi 909.

His inexperienced crewman, owner of the boat Reg Pailey, 53, was knocked senseless momentarily after Clear was thrown on top of him before loosing his footing and going over the side after the boat was lifted unexpectedly while running in an easterly gale south of Portland. The pair had been changing watch when the tragedy happened. The boat had been motor-sailing under genoa alone, but after problems with the electrics – which caused the nav lights and instrumentation to fail – the engine was turned off. Pailey raised the alarm.

The yacht had started her passage from the Hamble and was bound for Plymouth. The Solent Coastguard helicopter, five freighters and three lifeboats were involved in the search. Pailey was taken off the yacht by the Yarmouth lifeboat, and the drowned skipper was found wearing his lit life-jacket by the Weymouth lifeboat.

The yacht was recovered by a tug and towed to Dartmouth.