Broadcaster Chris Evans was among the crew on a yacht that had her skipper knocked overboard last night.

At 2115 last night it was reported that the skipper of the 38ft yacht, Nausicaa, which was carrying six other people and which had been motoring near the Brambles Bank with the sails up, had been knocked overboard by the swinging boom. It emerged this morning that the skipper was a friend of Chris Evans and that the celebrity was on board at the time of the accident.

Solent Coastguard attempted to ascertain the yacht’s position in the darkness and requested the remaining individuals on the vessel to switch on the lights and alert the passing Isle of Wight car ferry. According to the coastguard they were unable to do so as they were unfamiliar with the layout of the yacht’s cockpit. They were also couldn’t use the VHF radio on board.

Hamble Rescue’s RIB and the Coastguard helicopter ‘India Juliet’ were called to the scene. In the meantime a police launch and three other vessels joined the scene in an effort to locate the vessel and find the missing skipper. A RIB, the Ocean Venture, located the Nautica and a man from a further RIB, Car, went into the water in an effort to recover the skipper.

The skipper was pulled aboard the Hamble Rescue craft where CPR was immediately started and he was taken to Hamble harbour and a waiting ambulance. He was later pronounced dead. Police are withholding the casualty’s name as the accident is subject to investigation but he is believed to be Hamble-based yachtsman James Ward.

Dave Williams, Solent Coastguard Watch Manager said: “Fortunately for the remaining individuals on board the vessel, the weather this evening has been kind with F2 winds, good visibility and a slight sea. During an initial safety briefing it is always advisable to familiarise all on board with the layout of a vessel in case of an accident. It was extremely lucky that this particular yacht was still within mobile cell range of the shore.”

Nautica left her Hamble mooring yesterday. She is not on the official participants’ list for Cowes Week and it was unclear what her intentions were at the time of the accident.