POIGNANT tributes have been paid to a sailor who died after colliding with a van while out cycling his bike.
Alastair Pratt, of Fifth Avenue, Denvilles, Havant, was an accomplished yachtsman and member of Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club. As reported, the 41-year-old was killed while cycling on the A259 at Chidham, near Emsworth, when he collided with a Ford Transit.
The 29-year-old van driver, from Chichester, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Friends said the sailing world had lost a shining light. Mr Pratt, known to pals as Al, had been a member at the club for 25 years and was the honorary cruiser secretary.
He enjoyed sailing in The Solent with his partner Gillian McCoy on their yacht Amaryllis.
Gillian said: ‘His cheeky boyish grin and great sense of fun meant you could not help but warm to him.
‘Sailing with such an expert yachtsman has been the greatest privilege. He was a wonderful man who has touched the hearts of many and he leaves behind a huge gap in my life and my heart.’
Mr Pratt worked for the Environment Agency.
Gillian added: ‘Al achieved widespread recognition in his career as a marine scientist helping to protect coastal waters from Hampshire round to the Thames and was a devotee of doing the right thing to protect our environment.
‘An avid and careful cyclist, it is so wrong that he was taken so young and in this way; he had so much more to give the world.’
James Mant, commodore at Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club, said he was popular and respected.
He said: ‘As a committee member he willingly gave many hours of voluntary work on behalf of the sport that he dearly loved and in support of the membership.
‘Alastair was a skilled and accomplished sailor with many racing trophies to his name. He was also a keen cruising sailor and amongst his adventures sailed single handed to and from Scandinavia in Amaryllis.’
The collision took place at 9.15am last Tuesday. The van driver has been bailed until July 14. Witnesses can call 0845 60 70 999.