Scots sailor dies in South African yachting accident

The remains of the yacht Tara are breaking up on the coastline. Image: Mariette de Jager/NSRI
The remains of the yacht Tara are breaking up on the coastline. Image: Mariette de Jager/NSRI
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A SCOTTISH man and an Irish woman have been killed in a yachting tragedy off the western coast of South Africa.

George Mills, 61, originally from Greenock, died after his 14m craft hit rocks in heavy fog while sailing from Langebaan to Cape Town.

Rachel and PJ Daly, from Ireland, were also on board when the boat ran aground.

Mrs Daly, 49, died in the incident, but her 66-year-old husband survived to swim ashore, despite a bleeding head wound, and raise the alarm.

Rescuers from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) pulled the bodies from sea after discovering the wreckage of the yacht amongst rocks on the shoreline.

It is understood the three were friends who had been living on the Western Cape.

Mr Mills is believed to have been a long-term member of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and owned the 14m yacht Tara.

Marina manager Joshio Fisher said: “The owner has been a member for a long time. We have had the burgee, the club’s flag, at half-mast.

“The club has got a very tight sailing community.

“Club members do make use of the restaurant and the bar facilities. This owner used to be quite well-known within the club. It’s been quite a dramatic incident for the club.”

He said the yacht had left the club’s marina for Port Owen, further up the west coast, and then returned, making one stop, before hitting the rocks.

The NSRI received reports that a yacht had capsized between Bokpunt and Gansekraal on the Western Cape just after 4:30am on Monday.

Sea rescue crafts responded along with a police dive unit but the yacht was discovered broken up on the shore.

The NSRI said it was not known what had caused the yacht to hit the rocks and whether it had capsized before running aground.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon confirmed there had been three people on board the vessel that was travelling to Cape Town.

He said: “Rescuers found the vessel broken up among the rocks in the shore line. A survivor, a 66-year-old Irishman, got to shore and raised the alarm. He was unhurt.

“The bodies of a 61-year-old Scotsman and a 49-year-old Irish woman were recovered.”

He added: “It is unknown what caused the yacht to run aground and it could not be confirmed if it had capsized before running aground.”

Photographer Henk Kruger, who was at the scene, described what he saw.

“The boat is completely wrecked and lots of flotsam has washed ashore in amongst the rocks,” he said.

“A portion of the stern is still visible on top of the rocks, probably about one eighth of the boat, and the waves are still breaking against it.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are liaising with local authorities and providing support to the family of a British national who has sadly died in Cape Town, South Africa.”

A spokesman for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said: “The department is aware of the death of an Irish citizen in the Western Cape and consular assistance is being provided.”

The South African Maritime Safety Authority is now investigating the incident.