Inquest rules skipper was not to blame

An Essex inquest has ruled that a 20-foot (six-metre) wave killed two sailors off Portgual and their skipper, who survived their capsize, was not to blame.

Chris Hull, 52, and Glenn Foster, 23, died in February 2011 when the yacht, Waterwave, was hit by the wave as they attempted to enter Povoa de Varzim harbour near Porto.

Skipper Chris Brooks, 24, was the only member of the trio not attached to the yacht with a tether and he survived after swimming ashore.

The coroner recorded in a narrative verdict that the wave had caused the deaths.

But at the court in Southend, Mr Hull’s wife Kim said she was unhappy with the verdict and would be seeking legal advice.

She asked Mr Brooks who made the decision to enter the harbour.

Mr Brooks said it was a joint decision as there were no warning lights or announcements on the radio to tell them otherwise, even though the harbour was closed.

Mr Brooks, a commercially endorsed yachtmaster, said: ‘The group set sail from Vigo in Spain when the weather was good, there was no wind and it was very sunny.

‘Events took a turn for the worse when we decided to stop at Povoa de Varzim to change the crew.

‘As we approached the harbour, which was closed, I saw the wave and tried to turn the boat into it.

‘But I could only manage to get it at 45 degrees to the wave which broke the mast when it hit the boat and capsized it.’

He said he saw Mr Hull and Mr Foster attached to the side of the capsized yacht by their lifelines, but the yacht was drifting away from him so he could not swim towards them.

The yacht later crashed on to the shore (pictured).

British sailors missing after yacht wrecked.