Don Nordqvist drowns

By Manuel Sevilla Moróder
Fri Mar 25 2011, 11:58 AM

The Swedish Olympic sailing coach has died in Alicante, Spain

Despite warnings from locals, Swedish Olympic sailing coach Don Nordqvist drowned on Wednesday when leaving Denia harbour in Alicante, Spain in bad weather to personally check the racing area and decide whether to continue with his training programme.

Strong easterly winds sustained over the last two days in the area have created a big swell and powerful currents outside the harbour entrance. Force 8 gusts and sea water temperature of 14°C were registered on Wednesday at nearby Oliva weather station.

In charge of the Swedish Olympic sailing coach team, 52-year-old Nordqvist had spent one month as a guest of Denia City Council and Club Nautico and was training two school student groups from Swedish town Motala.

At around 13:30h, the experienced sailor was leaving Denia harbour on a RIB crewed also by a 30-year-old woman when a large wave flipped the boat over. Neither were wearing lifejackets.

Onshore witnesses were able to throw a life ring to assist and later rescue the woman, who was taken to hospital with hypothermia, minor injuries and shock.

A helicopter was used to rescue Nordqvist, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.