Gosport kayaker died after underestimating wind and tide, inquest hears

The search for kayaker Stephen Taylor from Gosport in April ''Picture: Jason Kay PPP-150420-132847001
The search for kayaker Stephen Taylor from Gosport in April ''Picture: Jason Kay PPP-150420-132847001

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A KAYAKER from Gosport died after underestimating the strength of the wind and tides, an inquest heard.

Stephen Taylor drowned in April after setting off from Hill Head to complete a 10-mile paddle to Lepe.

What has happened can be described as an extremely tragic accident

Coroner David Horsley

An inquest into the death of the 54-year-old heard that despite being an experienced kayaker, Mr Taylor had not taken into account the strength of the tide and wind.

During the inquest, at Portsmouth Guildhall today, Mr Taylor’s partner Michelle Fuller said he had prepared for the adventure, which was to be his longest trip yet, through daily exercise and regular trips using his kayak.

She said he sent her a selfie of himself on the beach at Lepe but then called her later when he had abandoned a first attempt to return home because of the strength of the tide.

She said: ‘He was struggling with the tide and wasn’t making any headway so he was going to sit back on the beach and wait for the tide.

‘I got the last call at 7.40pm. I could hear in his voice he was tired and I could hear the wind on the phone.’

PC Matthew Gransden, of Hampshire police’s marine unit, said a dredger had passed Mr Taylor around the same time as the last sighting of him and this wash could have caused him to capsize or fall out of the kayak.

He said it would have been difficult to get back into the kayak because of the cold sea temperatures and his fatigue from the long trip.

‘Mr Taylor was a victim of the wind and the sea conditions in the Solent,’ PC Gransden said.

‘He underestimated the effect those would have on his return journey.’

Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: ‘It all adds up that although Stephen has prepared sensibly for this trip and kept himself fit and was serious and committed to his kayaking, everything has conspired against him - wind, tide and other vessels in the Solent.

‘What has happened can be described as an extremely tragic accident.’