Death of seasoned sailor was a ‘freak accident’

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A seasoned sailor drowned in a ‘freak accident’ after being hit by the mast of his catamaran, an inquest heard.

David Clews, 69, of Tenby Drive, Luton, was spotted in the water at Stewartby Lake, near Houghton Conquest, on Friday, October 3.

Emergency services were called to the lake and at around 5.30pm Mr Clews was found face down in the water.

Fire crews attempted to perform CPR but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem examination found that Mr Clews’ cause of death was drowning and that he may have fallen into the water after being knocked unconscious.

His wife Janet told Beds assistant coroner Ian Pears that it was believed her husband fell from his catamaran after being struck by the mast.

She said: “David had been a sailor for more than 20 years, he was not a novice.

“It was a freak accident ...an experienced sailor would have been able to right the boat but he was hit by the top of the mast.”

She added that there were no known defects with her husband’s catamaran.

“It was brand new in August, it had been brought up from Poole,” said Mrs Clews.

“Everything with it was as it should have been.”

Assistant coroner Mr Pears concluded at the inquest in Ampthill: “I am going to state that David died from drowning when he fell from the catamaran and that the cause of death was accidental.”

Paying tribute after Mr Clews’ tragic death, Stewartby Water Sports Club member Gerry Howcroft said the 69-year-old “passed away while doing something he enjoyed”.

He added: “David was a very keen sailor and enjoyed many other water sports too, owning a fishing boat, a Canadian canoe, a Hobie Wave catamaran and what most of you will remember him by, his beautiful sail canoe, with two small sails and outriggers.

“All who knew him will sadly miss David.”