French superyacht skipper, 42, was ‘high on cannabis’ and showing off in front of partying Britons when he lost control and crashed 78-ton vessel into another yacht killing British deckhand, 29, on French Riviera
- Jake Feldwhere, 27, was on the foredeck of an 88ft-long Minx when it was hit
- He had been preparing to lift the anchor and was killed instantly on impact
- It happened after the Vision skipper was persuaded to pass the other yacht
- The skipper later tested positive for cannabis after undergoing a blood test
A French superyacht skipper was ‘high on cannabis’ and showing off in front of nine partying Britons when he lost control and crashed the 78-ton vessel into another yacht – killing a British deckhand, 29, on the French Riviera.
Crewman Jake Feldwhere, 27, was on the foredeck of an 88ft-long Minx preparing to lift the anchor when he was struck and killed off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, near Cannes.
The tragedy happened after the husband of the British owner of the 78ft long Vision yacht persuaded the French skipper to attempt a high speed pass of the yacht Minx so his guests could wave goodbye to their friends.
But the skipper lost control of the boat while speeding at 33 knots – more than six times the local speed limit – and ploughed into Minx.
Crewman Jake Feldwhere (pictured), 27, was on the foredeck of an 88ft-long Minx preparing to lift the anchor when he was struck and killed off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, near Cannes
The super yacht Vision pictured moments before hitting another boat while speeding at more than six times the local limit on the French Riviera
Mr Feldwhere was killed in the collision on the evening of May 25, 2019, which was the last day of the Cannes film festival.
Guests on both boats had spent the afternoon and evening partying together, initially in a restaurant on shore while their crews remained on the yachts, according to a report by the UK Government’s Marine Accidents Investigation Branch.
The two groups who knew each other agreed to continue their party at sea and the two yachts were rafted together so they could carry on drinking after being ferried back by tenders from the island by around 6.30pm.
The report said that the crew of the Gibraltar-registered Vision started preparing to return to Monaco at around 8.30pm when it was still daylight and the two groups of guests returned to their respective boats.
The 78-tonne boat began planing as its speed increased while rapidly approaching the Minx with the propellers of its twin engines creating a ‘rooster tail’ water spray
The tragedy happened after the husband of the British owner of the 78ft long Vision yacht persuaded the French skipper to attempt a high speed pass of the yacht Minx so his guests could wave goodbye to their friends
The husband of the beneficial owner of the boat, described in the report as the charterer, asked his skipper if they could pass Minx as they departed ‘to allow the guests to wave goodbye to their friends on board the anchored yacht’.
The report said that the skipper motored 750m away before turning round and accelerating as he attempted ‘a fast slalom-type manoeuvre close down the port side of the anchored Minx’.
The 78-tonne boat began planing as its speed increased while rapidly approaching the Minx with the propellers of its twin engines creating a ‘rooster tail’ water spray.
But the boat failed to respond due to its high speed when the 42-year-old French skipper tried to steer to port at the last moment and the Vision collided with Minx’s bow, hitting Mr Feldware who was on his first day at sea. He is thought to have died instantly from serious head injuries.
Mr Feldwhere was killed in the collision on the evening of May 25, 2019, which was the last day of the Cannes film festival. Pictured, the damaged superyacht Minx after the collision
Mr Feldware (pictured) from Midhurst, West Sussex, had only arrived in the south of France four weeks before the tragedy, having just completed a basic boat training course
Most of other crew and guests on the Minx were thrown to the deck by the impact and several suffered minor injuries. Those on board the UK-registered boat included the owner who is reportedly British and his eight guests.
French emergency services and maritime police rushed to the crash scene and both of the damaged yachts were escorted by police to marina berths at Cannes later in the evening.
The skipper of the Vision which is owned by the Gibraltar-registered company Ceratops Consultants underwent a blood test the next day and tested positive for cannabis.
The report described the Vision’s manoeuvre as ‘unsafe’ and said it had ‘introduced the risk of collision’.
The report said that Vision’s skipper, encouraged by guests on the yacht, did a daring swallow-dive into the sea from the flybridge during the party. Pictured, Minx
It said: ‘On departure from the anchorage, Vision’s skipper attempted a high-speed close pass of the anchored Minx. 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.
‘The accident happened because Vision’s skipper underestimated the risks associated with the close pass manoeuvre, and prioritised his perception of the charterer’s wishes over the safe navigation of the vessel.
‘Blood sample tests conducted the day after the accident indicated that Vision’s skipper was under the influence of cannabis, which was likely to have impaired his judgement.’
Mr Feldwhere (pictured) died in the yacht collision in Monaco
The report said that Vision’s skipper, encouraged by guests on the yacht, did a daring swallow-dive into the sea from the flybridge during the party.
It added that Gibraltar shipping regulations prohibited crew members from being on duty or operating vessels while under the influence of drugs. The use of illegal drugs was also specifically banned in the skipper’s contract of employment.
The skipper was found to have a Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster certificate to operate powered boats, but had not endorsed it by taking a Professional Practices and Responsibility course as required under Small Commercial Vessel rules.
The report added: ‘The collision occurred because Vision’s skipper attempted an unsafe, close high-speed pass, then lost control immediately after turning directly towards Minx.
‘Minx’s crewman was on the foredeck and could do nothing to avoid being struck and was killed instantly by the force of the impact.
‘As professional seafarers in a commercial environment, motor yacht skippers have a duty of care to the guests, the vessel, their crew and other water users.
‘In the motor yacht industry, owners and charterers are on vacation; they will want to relax, be pampered and party, but they might also want to be entertained, perhaps even thrilled, by the experience of being at sea for their leisure.
‘In this environment, motor yacht skippers and crew must stay in control of the yacht and not allow themselves to get caught up in the party atmosphere.
‘However challenging it may be, the presence of powerful owners or demanding charterers must not have any influence on safe operations and the professional conduct of the crew.
‘Vision’s skipper had swallow-dived into the sea during the party and then driven the yacht at over six times the local speed limit when attempting to provide an opportunity for the guests to wave to their friends on departure from the anchorage.
‘These were actions that illustrate that Vision’s skipper had not placed the safety of the yacht and its occupants as his absolute top priority. However, the skipper’s behaviour, in attempting the pass, was heavily influenced by the charterer’s wish to provide a good opportunity for his guests to wave goodbye to their friends.’
The Vision 60ft yacht collided into the boat which was said to be travelling at ‘three times the speed limit’ when it crashed at 9pm
The report added: ‘Cannabis is a central nervous system depressant, which can significantly impair the execution of tasks.
‘The effects of cannabis use can be similar to alcohol, including reduced reaction times, lack of co-ordination and difficulty with complex or skilled tasks requiring divided attention such as driving.
Mr Feldware from Midhurst, West Sussex, had only arrived in the south of France four weeks before the tragedy, having just completed a basic boat training course.
He posted a smiling selfie from Monaco Port on social media after he arrived, writing: ‘Only gone and made it to Monaco. Let the adventure begin!’
Hours before his death, he posted more pictures on Instagram of the Cannes shoreline from Île Sainte-Marguerite, a notorious spot for yacht parties, with the caption: ‘Not a bad day to be out on the sea. #Cannes #LoveIt.’
French prosecutors revealed at the time of the accident that the skipper of the Vision had been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
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