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Dover Regatta crash: 'Safety lessons had not been learned'

Dover Regatta fatality
Dover Regatta fatality

Investigators today criticised a powerboat race in Dover Harbour last year where a tragic crash killed a man.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch revealed safety recommendations made after an accident four years earlier had not been applied at last August's Dover Regatta.

Two powerboats smashed into each other in the race killing Allhallows Yacht Club member Alex Edmonds, 41, of Grain Road, Lower Stoke.

According to a report, the event was taking place on a shortened and compromised course.

The rules were confusing and the risks hadn't been properly assessed, investigators found.

However, the report said the course had been approved by the Royal Yachting Association, and a large proportion of untrained novice and inexperienced competitors were permitted to take part.

"Ultimately it was the ability of the crews of the two boats that collided that caused the collision," said the investigation team.

But, they said, they were racing under the auspices of an organisation that the investigation concluded had been insufficiently focused on safety and had not made "adequate attempts to control the race or educate the crews about the risks they faced".

Alex Edmonds, with his daughter Olivia
Alex Edmonds, with his daughter Olivia

The accident involved two offshore circuit racing powerboats Sleepwalker and Harwich 2011.

Both crews were said to have limited racing experience but were taking part in the RYA’s national championship.

The investigators said it was on a course that was too short and was congested by the number of boats in the race.

The crash happened when Harwich 2011 unintentionally lost control, turned sharply and reduced speed significantly.

The crew of Sleepwalker, which was following behind, had little opportunity to take avoiding action and struck the side of the first boat close to where its co-driver, Mr Edmonds, was seated.

He bore much of the force of the impact, his helmet was torn off and he suffered severe injuries to his head and upper body.

Despite prompt and extensive medical attention he died.

The MAIB said that safety lessons, identified from an accident at Portland Harbour in June 2005, had not been applied effectively as intended by the RYA Council.

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