Family's pain over yacht skipper's death

RELATIVES of a much loved skipper, who was tragically killed in a yachting accident off the French coast, have today spoken of their devastating loss.

Naomi Cassidy

RELATIVES of a much loved skipper, who was tragically killed in a yachting accident off the French coast, have today spoken of their devastating loss.

Wilfrid Tolhurst, 64, was on his Levington-based yacht Safir in a famous race in Cannes on Tuesday when it collided with another yacht, causing the mast to fall on top of him.

Mr Tolhurst, from Langham near Dedham, was brought quickly to shore but died before anything could be done.


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The rest of the crew, which included his son Julian, were uninjured.

In a statement, his family said: “Wilf was a much loved and devoted husband, father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by all.

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“Wilf had a huge passion for life and enjoyed a variety of interests from horse racing and sailing to skiing, local conservation and golf.”

He leaves behind his wife Ann, son Julian and daughter Katherine, and five grandchildren Ben, Abbi, Harriet, Charlie and Amelia.

As a mark of respect the first race of the Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai yesterday was cancelled and the 168-boat fleet displayed black on each of their crafts. The family requested that the race continue.

Mr Tolhurst, who was the chairman of the Dedham Vale Society and a popular member of the community, was born in Southend, Essex, and educated at Beaumont College in Windsor.

On leaving school he joined the family law firm, Tolhurst Fisher, which was founded by his father's uncle, Bernard Tolhurst. Soon after, he met and married Ann Cannon in 1969 with whom he remained very happy with for nearly 40 years until his death.

They initially lived in Boreham before moving to Hatfield Peveril, Danbury, and finally to Langham.

Mr Tolhurst remained with Tolhurst Fisher for more than 30 years before retiring and founding a commercial property investment firm, Cavenham Estates, with his son.

During his life he played rugby for Blackheath and rode in local Point-to-Points as well as participating as an owner, trainer and steward.

He had owned the eight metre yacht Safir, which was kept at the Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington, since 2004. It was in collision with British America's Cup boss Graham Walker's 65-foot boat, which was twice the weight of Mr Tolhurst's.

A police enquiry is currently under way to determine the cause of the incident.

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

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