Tribute paid to powerboat crash victim

An emotional tribute's been paid at sea to a powerboat pilot who died after his boat overturned during a race in Essex.

Ian Stirling, 59, from St Austell, Cornwall, died on Saturday after his boat hit a wave during the European and British Powerboat Championships in Harwich, Essex.

Yesterday afternoon, around 50 powerboats went to the scene of the accident where flowers were laid on the water and a minute's silence was held.

John Puddifoot, powerboat racing manager of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), described the tribute as "very moving''.

The powerboats were led out by a police boat, past watching crowds, and formed a circle close to the crash scene.

A RYA spokeswoman said a chequered flag was raised to signal a minute's silence.

Flowers were then laid as a tribute to Mr Stirling and the larger of the power boats fired up their engines to roar a salute.

More than 40 sailing boats also gathered on the water and lowered their flags to half mast in his memory.

Mr Stirling was named by the RYA earlier today.

Mr Puddifoot said: "Mr Stirling was a highly experienced pilot with 25 years of powerboat racing at a European and world championship level. He is going to be greatly missed within the powerboat racing family. Our deepest condolences go to Mr Stirling's long-standing partner and family at this very sad time.''

An RYA spokeswoman said Mr Stirling was competing in the European Championships for offshore powerboat Class 2 litre/3c, when his boat - named N Class Fabrications - hit a wave, throwing the two people aboard into the water.

A crewman sustained injuries and was recovering in hospital, she said.

No other boats were involved.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said Mr Stirling suffered a head injury and was confirmed dead at the scene.

The RYA will conduct an inquiry into the accident and is working with the Essex Police marine unit and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

A police spokeswoman said a post-mortem examination will take place later this week.

Officers are appealing for anyone with photographs or video of the moment the boat overturned to contact them on 0300 333444.

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