A FRENCH yacht skipper was “high on cannabis” and showing off when he lost control and crashed into a boat killing a British sailor.
The captain of the 78-ton vessel Vision sped up to 33 knots – more than six times the local speed limit – on the French Riveria before ploughing into another yacht, Minx.
Jake Feldwhere, 29, was on the foredeck of the boat and was preparing to lift the anchor when he was struck and killed off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, near Cannes.
Guests on both boats had spent the day partying together at a restaurant on shore before returning to the boats, where crew members had remained, according to a report by the UK Government’s Marine Accidents Investigation Branch.
Once back on board, the two yachts were rafted together so the two groups could continue drinking together at about 6.30pm.
Two hours later, the crew of the Gibraltor-registered Vision began to prepare to return to Monaco, and so the party-goers returned to their respective boats.
But tragedy struck after the charterer of the 92-foot long Vision superyacht asked the French skipper if there would be an opportunity to pass the other boat, so guests could wave goodbye to their friends.
According to the report, the skipper motored 750m away before turning around and quickly accelerating in an attempt of “a fast slalom-type manoeuvre close down the port side of the anchored Minx”.
As he sped through the water, allegedly high on cannabis, the 42-year-old skipper lost control and hit Minx, killing crewman Jake Feldwhere on the final day of the Cannes film festival – May 25, 2019.
It was Mr Feldwhere’s first day at sea, having just completed a basic boat training course after arriving in the south of France just four weeks before the incident.
Hours before the fatal collision Jake posted a series of photographs of the Cannes shoreline from Île Sainte-Marguerite, a notorious spot for yacht parties, captioned: “Not a bad day to be out on the sea. #Cannes #LoveIt.”
Mr Feldwhere, from Midhurst, West Sussex, is thought to have died instantly from serious head injuries.
The skipper of Vision underwent a blood test the following day, which indicated that he was under the influence of cannabis.
The report said this “was likely to have impaired his judgement”, and branded the yacht’s manoeuvre as “unsafe” and said it had “introduced the risk of collision”.
It said: “On departure from the anchorage, Vision’s skipper attempted a high-speed close pass of the anchored Minx.
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“The aim of the close pass was, at the suggestion of Vision’s charterer, to provide an opportunity for the guests to wave goodbye to their friends on board Minx.
“However, during the manoeuvre Vision’s skipper lost control of the yacht and it collided with the anchored Minx.”
French prosecutors revealed at the time of the accident that the skipper of the Vision had been charged with involuntary manslaughter.