Crash costs yachtsman £103,000

CONVICTED: Roland Wilson.

CONVICTED: Roland Wilson.

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A ROYAL Navy officer who was in charge of a racing yacht which collided with an oil tanker during Cowes Week has been found guilty of three counts of contravening maritime regulations.

Durham University physics graduate Roland Wilson, a lieutenant in the RN Reserve, was convicted of failing to keep a proper lookout and two counts of impeding the passage of a vessel, following a five-day trial at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

The 32-year-old was in charge of his 33ft yacht Atalanta of Chester which was in collision with the 869ft (Hanne Knutsen on the first day of the regatta in August 2011.

That was despite the married father-of-one, from Stanley, Perthshire, spotting the tanker from five miles away. Footage of the incident, in which one crew member suffered minor head injuries and another abandoned ship, was posted on YouTube and has been viewed more than 900,000 times.

During the trial, the prosecution claimed Wilson sailed his boat, which had seven other crew on board, “perilously” into the path of the tanker and failed to observe bylaws on distances to be kept between vessels.

Wilson said the tanker sounded its horn to indicate it was to turn to starboard but then did not carry out the manoeuvre, leaving him in a dangerous position in front of it.

The trial heard a motor vessel had lost power and caused the Hanne Knutsen to change its course.

Wilson told the court he joined the Royal Navy in 2006 and left in February this year but remains a reservist.

Wilson was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay a £15 surcharge, as well as the full costs of the prosecution, which totalled £100,056.