Popular sailor dies on boat

TRIBUTES have today been paid to a sailing enthusiast who died at the helm of his boat.Popular sailor Jon Wainwright died onboard Reynardine, on Sunday after suffering a suspected heart attack during a journey from Harwich to the Netherlands.

TRIBUTES have today been paid to a sailing enthusiast who died at the helm of his boat.

Popular sailor Jon Wainwright died onboard Reynardine, on Sunday after suffering a suspected heart attack during a journey from Harwich to the Netherlands.

Father-of-two Mr Wainwright, 61, of New Road, Mistley, Manningtree, was taking part in the annual Old Gaffers Passage race when he fell ill, and despite the efforts of his two crew members to resuscitate him he died on the boat.

His son Andy Wainwright, 34, said although his father had experienced heart problems in the past, including two bypass operations, it was a great shock to lose him.

He said: “He was an amazing bloke. I can't quite believe he has gone.

“When he had his first bypass operation in the late 1980s we were told he wouldn't have much more than ten years to live but he did fairly well for himself and kept fit.

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“We knew it could be anytime he was going to die but we were all very glad he died sailing rather than in a hospital bed. He was an inspirational father.”

Mr Wainwright also has a daughter Elizabeth, 30, and had been sailing since he was a small boy.

He had even published an autobiography, Only So Many Tides, which charts his love of boats.

Mr Wainwright's wife, Margaret, is currently in Holland making arrangements to return her husband's body after his boat was escorted to the port of Stellendam following the tragedy.

A spokesman for the RAF search and rescue helicopter crew based at Wattisham said the crew was called around 3.20am on Sunday to the boat which was halfway between Britain and the Netherlands, though still in British waters. However they were unable to save Mr Wainwright's life.

Commodore John Minns of the Stour Sailing Club, of which Mr Wainwright was a long-term member as well as being secretary of the east coast Old Gaffers Association, said: “Jon was the most charismatic character on the Old Gaffers Association east coast sailing scene.

“He lived for sailing and loved the Old Gaffers and did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes.

“He lived life completely to the full and the fact that he died at the helm of one of his beloved gaff-rigged boats is a tribute to him.

“We will party on. It is what he would have expected.”

Would you like to pay a tribute to Mr Wainwright? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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