Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

Olympic yachtsman found dead in plane + Video

by Richard Gladwell on 11 Apr 2011
Jason Geale (r) and top Canadian Laser sailor Mike Leigh with Geoff Smale winners of the OKI 24 Hour Race 2010. The fundraiser has grown to become something of an international event, this year America’’s Cup winning crews competed © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

One of New Zealand's top sailors - 1968 Olympic representative and 1958 Price of Wales Trophy winner, Geoff Smale, has been found dead in the cockpit of his crashed microlight. He was en route from Auckland to Ashburton.

It is reported that an Airforce Iroquois helicopter found the wreckage, on Mount Duppa in the Bryant Range, about 20km north east of Nelson, around 2pm today, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) says.

A paramedic was winched down to the wreckage and found Smale's body, the report says. His family has been informed.

Smale left Auckland's North Shore airfield late Saturday morning, and was due in Ashburton mid afternoon, the authorities were notified of the fact that he had not arrived around 5.00pm.

Four planes are initially searched the North and South Islands along the route of his flight.

Weather in the area was described as being good all through his route and no distress signal has been activated.

Smale (86) is described by Search and Rescue authorities as being a very experienced and very capable pilot who had made the 800km trip to Ashburton many times. He had not reported into the control tower at Wellington Airport, as was his usual practice, however it is not known if he had crossed Cook Strait or was still in the North Island.



It is reported in the print edition of the http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10718361!NZ_Herald that Smale's plane is fitted with a device known as a 'ballastic rocket' meaning that if there is an engine failure then a parachute can be fired that will lower the plane to the ground. If activated this would show on the ground as a large orange and white canopy. This initially created some hope that he would be found, along with the high standard of safety gear carried aboard the plane.

The report from The Dominion of 12 April can be read by http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4874349/Pilot-died-on-route-he-flew-many-times!clicking_here

NZ Herald reports on the reaction to Smale's passing from two yachtsmen, Ralph Roberts and Graham Mander http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10718684!click_here to read. It says the incident will be investigated by Civil Aviation authorities.

On Sunday evening, the search was stood down and was reassessed on Monday morning. www.stuff.co.nz reported that RCC search and rescue officer Neville Blakemore said the radar track showed an aircraft leaving Auckland then disappearing from radar just South of Taharoa in the Waikato at about midday before resuming near Stratford in Taranaki before being lost again about 1pm near D’Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds.

Additional data found Sunday afternoon showed the radar track moving south from Cape Soucis in Tasman Bay at 1.40pm down through Rai Valley, northeast of Nelson.

Early Sunday afternoon www.stuff.co.nz reported that rescuers had narrowed their search to two areas after information was provided about aircraft dropping off the radar yesterday along his microlight's expected route.

The aircraft, a white microlight with red detailing, had a nine-hour flying range and was capable of 135 knots (250kph), so was able to complete the flight without refuelling stops.

The weather along the route yesterday was good overall, with a few cloudy patches, Blakemore said.

RCC search and rescue officer Neville Blakemore said radar tracking information provided by the Airways Corporation showed an aircraft leaving from Auckland at about the same time as Smale, then disappearing from radar about an hour later just South of Taharoa in the Waikato.

The information was roughly consistent with the estimated timing, speed and possible route of Smale's aircraft.

A helicopter from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust based in New Plymouth would carry out a thorough search of the area, Blakemore said.

As well, a fixed-wing plane from the Phillips Rescue Trust in Hamilton would fly a path between Auckland, Stratford and D'Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds, after additional radar data provided by Airways showed an aircraft disappearing from radar about 1pm yesterday near D'Urville.

This was also roughly consistent with the estimated timing and possible route of Smale's aircraft.

Microlight pilot Mike Gray, of the Marlborough Aero Club, said flying conditions over Smale's route were good, except in Marlborough where a ''cyclonic gloom'' brought cloud cover down to about 250-400 metres.

''The higher you fly, the safer you are,'' Gray said. ''Once you get lower there are less options.''

It was in this area that Smale's plane crashed.

Smale was carrying a personal locator beacon, radio, radar transponder and cellphone. The beacon has not been activated and attempts to contact Smale have been unsuccessful, stuff.co.nz reported

Geoff Smale represented New Zealand in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, in the Flying Dutchman class and along with long time crew member Ralph Roberts won the 1958 Prince of Wales Trophy sailing in the International Fourteen class at Cowes, long regarded as the win which set New Zealand dinghy sailing on the international world stage. Many of those involved in the class moved acroos to the Flying Dutchman class culminating in the Gold Medal win by Helmer Pedersen and Earle Wells in 1964, on Sagami Bay, Tokyo, Japan.

He was one of the founding fathers of the Murrays Bay Sailing Club, and one of the most intelligent sailors that New Zealand has produced.


His Olympic campaigns were usually undertaken using sails he designed himself (except for spinnakers), and the sight became common of a Flying Dutchman rigged on his front lawn of his Campbells Bay clifftop home, downwind of a smoking grass fire so he could observe the wind flow over sails.

Along with Brin Wilson, who designed the hull, Smale was the designer of the rig for the Father and Son class, of the then Murrays Bay Boating Club's project to have a multipurpose dinghy suitable for father and son.

With projects like these, from a club run off the beach and using the basement of a local church hall as a base, the MBBC grew a strong reputation for developing young sailors including America's cup skippers Chris Dickson and Dean Barker. As a youth sailor Russell Coutts sailed from the club after moving to Auckland.

The Father and Son project led to the development of the 24 hour Race developed as a fundraiser on North Shore's Lake Pupuke, and of which the latest edition was sailed just last weekend.

Mackay BoatsProtector - 660 x 82Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Related Articles

A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
A Q&A with Shawn Macking about the StPYC’s Sailing Center and OD fleet
I talked with Shawn Macking, the StPYC’s waterfront director, to learn how the club is getting more people out sailing. I caught up with Shawn Macking, waterfront director of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, via email to learn more about the club’s Sailing Center, its hefty investment in a new fleet of ten J/70s, and how the StPYC is using this infrastructure to expose more people to the sport we all love.
Posted on 13 Feb
A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba
I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event. If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, imagine racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls. I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures it affords.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Anna Tunnicliffe about her return to competitive sailing
I talked with Anna Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing. Anna Tunnicliffe won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the Laser Radial before shifting her sights to the Women’s Match Racing event for the London 2012 Olympics. Here, she came up shy of expectation and left sailing for the CrossFit Games, but now she is returning to her roots. I talked with Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016