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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 20:51 GMT
Man 'dragged under boat in race'
Beach at Abersoch, Gwynedd
A second crew member survived the incident, the inquest heard
A sailing enthusiast drowned when he became caught in the rigging of a boat during a race in Abersoch, Gwynedd, an inquest has heard.

Timothy Atkinson, 48, of Banbridge, County Down died when the Laser 4000 he was crewing turned upside down.

He was dragged under the dinghy when a hook on his harness was caught on a wire, the inquest heard.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said it was almost certain this was what had happened.

Mr Atkinson had recently retired after 30 years' service in the police in Northern Ireland when he took part in the National Laser 4000 championship on the Lleyn Peninsula hosted by the South Caernarfonshire Yacht Club.

A second crew member, Emily Hadden of Killinchy, County Down, survived the incident.

John Thorn, national sailing coach for the Royal Yachting Association, told the inquest it appeared Mr Atkinson had been dragged under the dinghy when it capsized.

It was a tragic case, but very rare
John Thorn, sailing coach

He was convinced that the hook in Mr Atkinson's "trapeze harness" had become entangled. There was a kink in the wire which would correspond with the hook being caught, he said.

Mr Thorn said it was hoped that an international safety standard would be devised soon to give a quick-release on such a harness.

It was hoped this would be done in time for 2009 races, he said.

"It was a tragic case, but very rare," added Mr Thorn.

Recording his verdict, coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones said Mr Atkinson had received a blow to his head which could have left him stunned or affected his ability to cope with an emergency.

It seemed there had been a problem with the spinnaker and after dealing with it the dinghy had capsized and he was caught in the rigging, the inquest heard.

Mr Pritchard-Jones added that there could be no criticism of the dinghy, the crew, nor of the organisation of the event.

Race goes on after dinghy death
31 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
'Tragic' death at sailing event
30 Jul 07 |  North West Wales

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