Father and daughter died after dinghy capsized during race

An investigation is underway to discover how a 52-year-old man and his 17-year-old daughter both died after capsizing on Kielder Water during a race.

Geoff and Victoria Wilkinson from Kirkwhelpington in Northumberland, were regular sailors and had been Kielder Water Sailing Club members for a number of years, according to news reports and a statement on the RYA website.

They had been competing in the ‘Kielder Collection’ race, which was a one day series of five races on Sunday 12 July.

Twelve dinghies, a mixed handicap fleet, committee boat and safety boat were all on the water and it was during race four (the second of the afternoon races) that the incident occurred, approximately 500m away from the club slipway.

The safety boat attended quickly, after being radioed from the committee boat by the race officer who had heard shouts for help from a capsized boat part way up the beat.

Sailing in a Laser Stratos dinghy, the boat seemed to have inverted very quickly, and it is believed that Victoria had become entangled in the trapeze wire.

On their arrival the crew of the safety boat quickly entered the water to begin righting the boat from the inverted position. As the boat came up the safety boat crew and others, who had also arrived to help, found the two bodies in the water.

It is thought that Geoff had died trying to release his daughter and did not seem to have been entrapped in any way. Victoria who remained in a critical condition in hospital also sadly lost her life on Tuesday 14 July, after her ventilator was switched off.

Post mortems are to be carried out which may provide more details as to what happened.

The RYA’s National Sailing Coach, John Thorn has been on site at Kielder Reservoir undertaking a full investigation on behalf of the RYA, as well as providing support, advice and guidance to the club and its members.

John has been examining the boat and equipment involved, as well as conducting interviews with those persons directly involved in the incident rescue operation, as well as any witnesses to the accident.

“The club is well equipped and takes its training and safety very seriously. It operates good practice under the Racing Rules of Sailing and is a well organised and resourced club”, stated John.