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The moment 750,000 people won't forget

by Sail-World Cruising Round-up on 26 Apr 2013
Hanne Knutsen and her small challenger .. .
This is the moment that 750,000 people will never forget and now the British skipper has to stand trial on a maritime negligence charge. It was a yacht crewed by Royal Navy Officers who made this embarrassing mistake in August 2011 (See Sail-World http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/Two-sailors-rescued-after-collision-with-tanker-in-Cowes-Week-+-Video/86959!story_and_video).

When one of the most important goals of the cruising sailor is to stay out of the way of large ships, Roland Wilson, ex Royal Navy Officer, managed to challenge one in the middle of Cowes Week while hundreds of spectators watched on. It's hard to say they didn't see it - the sun was shining, and it was painted the brightest possible red. It's quite difficult to work out what was going on in the minds of the Navy Officers when the 33ft Corby sloop Atalanta breached a dozen navigation rules and collided with the oil tanker, the Hanne Knutsen, destroying the mast and getting the sails caught in the stowed anchor. Spectators on the shore watched, horrified, and many took videos.

This week, in a preliminary hearing, dressed in a smart grey suit and red and blue striped tie, he denied failing to maintain a proper look out, impeding the passage of the UK-registered tanker, and crossing the channel used by the tanker.

The fully-laden crude oil tanker was making its way up the Solent on its way to Fawley oil refinery, off Cowes, Isle of Wight, on August 6, 2011.

Because of its huge size it had to be escorted by two pilot boats and stay within a strict channel marked by buoys, which smaller vessels were not allowed to enter, Southampton Magistrates' Court heard.

However, Wilson - a former Royal Navy lieutenant - allegedly allowed his yacht to stray into the channel in breach of international navigation rules.

The YouTube video of the incident went viral at the time, the yacht was severely damaged and one of the crew was injured. This meant that Roland and his crew simply became laughing stocks after the video on YouTube had over 750,000 hits

Wilson, 31, from Stanley, Perthshire, was ordered to return to Southampton Magistrates' Court on 7 October for the start of a five-day trial.
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