Skipper rescue attempts ‘hindered’

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THE failure to appoint a replacement skipper on a yacht ‘hindered’ the rescue attempts of a man who drowned off the coast, an investigation has found.

Christopher Reddish, 46, fell overboard from the 40ft yacht Lion during bad weather in June last year.

He was in the water for 16 minutes as the crew, which included his son Alex, battled to pull him aboard in difficult conditions. He was pronounced dead by a consultant cardiologist who was one of the crew.

An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport said: ‘The prevailing conditions made the recovery of the skipper physically challenging. No-one had been nominated to replace the skipper if he was incapacitated. Initially it was unclear who was in charge, which hindered communications.’

Mr Reddish of, Clapham Junction, London was taking part in the 95-mile Morgan Cup Race to Cherbourg from Southampton, when the accident happened 14 and a half miles off the coast of Selsey Bill, West Sussex, just after midnight on June 18. At 12.27am the helmsman noticed part of the sail had slipped into the water. It was recovered and was being passed into the cockpit when it was noticed Mr Reddish had fallen into the sea. It is not known how or why he fell as no-one saw it happen. The former navy lieutenant commander was still connected to the starboard jackline by his tether.

The report added: ‘Lion’s skipper was a forthright, confident yachtsman and the crew had no doubt about who was in charge. However, once the skipper was lost overboard, there was initially a loss of direction because no-one had been nominated to replace him.’

An inquest last year revealed the captain may have suffered a head injury as he fell. His death was ruled as accidental.