Volvo Ocean Race sailor receives tributes after drowning

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Zane Gills, Volvo Ocean Race sailor. Photo courtesy Sarah Gills

Zane Gills, Volvo Ocean Race sailor. Photo courtesy Sarah Gills

Tributes continue to come in honor of Zane Gills, a longtime Volvo Ocean Race sailor who drowned in a boating accident on New Year’s Eve. Gills, 37, was originally from Australia but lived in the United Kingdom with his wife, Sarah Gills, who announced his death in a Facebook post.

“It’s with disbelief I have to share with you that Zane has tragically died in an accident,” Gills wrote on her New Year’s Eve Facebook post. “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.”

The post prompted 200 comments from friends. One wrote: “I’m utterly speechless on hearing this. A true legend of the sport of sailing and a bloody good bloke to go with it. Very rare breed. Sending all our love and thoughts to you.”

Gills raced with Team Telefónica in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, which is now known as The Ocean Race. Race organizers tweeted: “The Ocean Race family and the entire sailing community is saddened to learn of the passing of Zane Gills. … We offer our deepest condolences to all of his family and friends.”

Gill was also an amateur rugby player for the Lymington Mariners, where he played for five seasons. “We’ll hold a one minute’s silence and all wear black armbands for him,” said chairman Phil Jenner, who said they would have a special memorial game. “Zane was a great addition, on and off the field. He was always out and there with a smile on his face.

According to the U.K. Metro, Gills disappeared from a sailboat shortly after he and his brother sailed into Span’s Port Vell on New Year’s Eve. His body was found under the boat by police several hours after his brother reported him missing.

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