Inquest opens into death of professional sailor Zane Gills who drowned in Spain

AN INQUEST has been opened into the death of a Hampshire sailor who died in Barcelona, Spain on December 27.

The hearing at Winchester Coroner’s Court was told that Zane Gills, 36, had drowned – as determined by a post-mortem examination carried out in Spain.

Acting area coroner Sam Marsh said a full port-mortem report was due to be sent from Barcelona and adjourned the inquest until June 30.

Originally from Australia, Mr Gills was a much loved member of the sailing community in Britain and had once competed in the renowned round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, one of the toughest team tests on the waters.  

However, his young life was tragically cut short two days after Christmas, which brought an outpouring of tributes both from the UK and across the world, where he was described by his wife as an ‘incredible man’.

Paying tribute to her late husband she said:

“It’s with disbelief I have to share with you that Zane has tragically died in an accident. We are all totally shocked and devastated by the news. He was an incredible man and will be very sorely missed.

“We ask respectfully for space at this time and we will inform everyone of funeral arrangements in Lymington and Australia soon.”

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Tributes have poured in for Zane Gills from across the world. Credit: Volvo Ocean Race.

His death also shocked members of his local rugby club, Lymington Mariners, where Mr Gills played for five seasons. Its chairman Phil Jenner announced that a minute’s silence would be held for the much loved teammate. He said:

“We’ll hold a one minute’s silence and all wear black armbands for him.

“Zane was a major part of the team. He’d been playing for us on and off for five seasons now. He was a great addition, on and off the field. He was always out and there with a smile on his face. 

“He lived life to the full and gave his all on the pitch and also off the pitch. He was a friend to everyone, never had a bad word to say about anyone. He’s going to be missed greatly.”

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Zane Gills died in Barcelona on December 27. Credit: Family handout.

It is understood that Mr Gills’ brother had filed a missing person’s report at the local police station after he failed to return to their recently docked yacht in Barcelona’s Port Vell. An investigation was then launched by members of a search and rescue unit, where they found his body underneath the boat. 

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Isha Sesay