Family pays tribute to Midhurst man, 27, killed in France yacht crash - 'He was full of the joys of life'
A young Midhurst man, killed in a yacht crash on the French Riviera, has been remembered by family as a 'highly energetic' adventurer.
Jake Feldwhere, 27, was on the foredeck of an 88ft-long Minx, preparing to lift the anchor, when he was struck and killed by another, 78-ton, yacht off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, near Cannes, on the evening of May 25, 2019. It was the crewman’s first day at sea on board the yacht.
According to the UK Government's Marine Accidents Investigation Branch, published on Thursday (January 28), there was nothing Jake could have done to prevent the collision, which happened after the skipper of a Gibraltar-registered motor yacht Vision, 'underestimated the risk' associated with attempting a 'fast, close pass by'.
The report added that the Vision skipper, whose judgement was 'likely' to have been impaired by his use of cannabis, was attempting the manoeuvre to allow his guests to wave goodbye to their friends. The Frenchman lost control of the boat while speeding at 33 knots, more than six times the local speed limit.
French emergency services and maritime police attended the scene but the injured crewman 'could not be resuscitated'.
Paying tribute, Jake's family said 'not a day goes by that we do not think about him'.
They added: "He was 27 years old and full of the joys of life.
"As we continue to try and come to terms with our grief, we also try to remember Jake with a smile and love in our hearts.
"He was a gorgeous, chubby, always tanned baby whose hair stuck up from his head in an alarming manner. He e grew to be a super fit, highly energetic, bright, and quick-witted individual who laughed loudly, sang even louder and who could talk incessantly."
Former Midhurst Grammar School, and Chichester College, student, Jake was remembered as an ‘incredibly independent, super helpful, always caring’ man, who looked out for his friends and whose family 'were his world'.
"And the world was his family," they added. "Jake was passionate about life and the planet; he knew more facts about the world than anyone else and was impossible to beat at
"He was also obsessed with Harry Potter, having grown up reading the books he knew everything and could quote passages to anyone interested.
"His love of books grew as he did, this was the only time you would find Jake quiet and thoughtful with a book in hand."
A 'home-loving boy at heart', Jake 'did not let that put him off travelling', his family said.
"He travelled extensively through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Bali, Europe, making friends as he went and sharing his spirit of adventure.
"One of Jake’s favourite quotes was from Harry Potter of course: 'Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light'.
"Well, Jake shone his light brightly throughout his life, blessing us all with his beaming smile and golden eyes. He was a son, a brother, a friend, and a legend who we will hold forever in our hearts always."
Jake was described by his sister, Beth, as the 'kindest human', who 'always went out of his way to make people feel good about themselves'.
"[He] gave people confidence that they may not have had if they had not met him," she added. "That is a rarity I find many people do not have these days.
"I know for a fact that he would have gone very far in life, unfortunately it was taken too soon.
"I speak for myself, my family, and his friends when I say he is so dearly missed but the love will never die.
"My heart breaks everyday for what we have lost. RIP my beautiful brother."
The government report noted that guests on both boats knew each other and had spent the afternoon and evening partying together.
The Vison skipper was said to have travelled 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 autopsy report stated that Jake died from traumatic head injuries after the accident.
The Vision's manoeuvre was described as 'unsafe' as it had 'introduced the risk of collision'.
A safety recommendation has been made to the Royal Yachting Association and the Professional Yachting Association to 'promulgate the safety lessons' from this accident to owners and operators of commercial motor yachts.