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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Race goes on after dinghy death
Beach at Abersoch, Gwynedd
The championship has been taking place since Saturday
Organisers of a dinghy championship on the Llyn Peninsula have decided to continue with the event after the death of a competitor from Northern Ireland.

Timothy Atkinson, 48, from Banbridge, County Down, had recently retired after completing 30 years of service as a police officer.

Inquiries continue into Monday's death at the Laser 4000 National Championship in Tremadoc Bay, near Abersoch.

It is thought he became trapped in a capsize. A second crew member survived.

A minute's silence was held at 1000 BST and a black flag raised as a mark of respect for Mr Atkinson.

In a statement, the Laser 4000 Class Association and South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club said the incident happened at approximately 1430 BST on Monday.

Capsizing is part of the sport and particularly in an event like that the competitors are experienced
James Stevens, RYA

"Mr Atkinson travelled to the event from County Down, Northern Ireland, with friends whom he had sailed with before," read the statement.

"The deepest sympathy is extended to all his family and friends by the class association and the yacht club."

The association also thanked all safety boat crews, the Abersoch lifeboat and the paramedics that treated Mr Atkinson.

Earlier, the association had announced its decision to go ahead with two races in the championships on Tuesday.

A collection raised at the minute's silence will be donated to the RNLI.

A joint investigation is being conducted by North Wales Police and Holyhead coastguard.

James Stevens, safety spokesman for the Royal Yachting Association, said it was "very, very unusual for something like this to happen at that kind of event".

"Capsizing is part of the sport and particularly in an event like that the competitors are experienced, " Mr Stevens said.

He said all competitors would have personal bouyancy aids and safety boats would be on hand for any emergencies.

'Real shockwave'

"These weren't beginners, these were competitors in a national championships so they'd know what to do with a capsize, and how to right a boat and get it back again.

"We will be looking at it very closely in co-operation with the police and also possibly the Marine Accident Investigation branch to see exactly how this incident happened."

I have never heard of an accident in this bay ever - to have one now is a sad, sad moment
Richard Tudor, yachtsman

He added: "All of us who sail these kinds of boats are deeply shocked by this. It sends a real shockwave through the sport."

Local councillor Hywel Wyn Williams described it as "a very tragic accident", the first sailing accident at Abersoch in over half a century.

"There's a very safety conscious team here at Abersoch," he said. "Since 1951, we have held these events and this is the first time this has happened."

Mr Atkinson and the woman sailing with him were rescued just before 1515 BST on Monday.

The air ambulance was called and paramedics tried to resuscitate the man.

Thirty eight dinghies, each crewed by two people, were taking part in the competition.

Championship yachtsman Richard Tudor, who lives at Llanbedrog near Abersoch, said it was "a very rare occasion" that there was an accident in the sailing world and they were more common among water bike and power boat competitors.

"I have never heard of an accident in this bay ever - to have one now is a sad, sad moment," he said.




SEE ALSO
'Tragic' death at sailing event
30 Jul 07 |  North West Wales

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