Tauranga yacht club mourns loss of 'one of our leading members' in Northland sinking tragedy

The Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club is mourning the loss of a sailor described as one of its leading members who died when a yacht sank off the east coast of Northland yesterday.

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Stuart Pedersen was one of Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club's leading members, says club commodore Andrew Knowles. Source: 1 NEWS

Stuart Pedersen, his wife and two others were forced to abandon their 47-foot vessel after it began taking on water in bad weather 37 kilometres off Cape Brett.

Mr Pedersen died in the incident and the three others were flown to hospital.

Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club Commodore Andrew Knowles has told 1 NEWS "everyone is absolutely shocked and horrified by the news".

Mr Knowles said Stuart Pedersen was one of the club's leading members in many ways.

"I didn't realise how much organisation he had done for windsurfing in New Zealand," he said.

Mr Knowles said two-time New Zealand Olympic sailing medalist Bruce Kendall told him today that "Stuart had done more for windsurfing in New Zealand than just about anyone else in the entire group of people that organised". 

Bruce Kendall won gold in boardsailing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics after winning bronze at the Los Angeles Olympics four years earlier.

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One person died and another was seriously injured after they were forced to abandon their vessel in bad weather. Source: Breakfast

Mr Knowles said Mr Pedersen's son, Sven, is also a top windsurfer and was New Zealand representative at the world youth champs five or six years ago.

He said Mr Pedersen's death leaves a big gap as he did a lot to help around the club and to help youth sailing as chairman of the Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy Trust.

"He was chairman of our trust that supplies the boats, particularly for kids that can't afford boats," Mr Knowles said. 

"And he personally organised the scheme we have to take kids from very low decile schools out for sailing lessons and a chance to try sailing which they wouldn't otherwise be able to do."

The yacht and power boat club's flag is flying at half mast today and Mr Pedersen's sailing tornado named Feisty Feline is nearby.