- The man in his 60s was racing in the RS Elite class at Cowes Week sailing regatta
- He was launched from his 24ft boat into the sea and then knocked unconscious
- Police say the man has died after being rushed to the local St Mary's Hospital
A sailor who was racing at the world's largest sailing regatta today died after being thrown from his yacht during strong winds and dragged through the water.
The man, in his 60s, was racing in the RS Elite class at Cowes Week sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight when he was launched from his 24ft boat into the sea and knocked unconscious.
Wind speeds reached almost 23mph today as blustery conditions hit the week-long sailing event, which is held annually and is the world's oldest and largest regatta.
Police revealed the man had died after being rushed to hospital.
A shocked witness said the man was part of a three man crew on one of the yachts before being thrown overboard at Osborne Bay, Cowes, this morning around 10.30am.
After a mayday call was sent, Cowes lifeboat, Ventnor Rescue Team, also of the Isle of Wight, and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter rushed to the scene after a mayday call.
Another sailor jumped in after the unconscious man in a bid to save him and the pair pulled them both aboard another yacht that had been in the race and took them back to shore.
When the helicopter arrived, a paramedic was winched down to a lifeboat to provide emergency treatment before the injured sailor was rushed to St Mary's Hospital in Newport, Isle of Wight, when back on land.
A Coastguard spokesman said: 'The person was pulled out of the water by a passing vessel and escorted by the lifeboat to shore.
'The casualty has been passed into the care of the Isle of Wight ambulance service.'
Despite being rushed to St Mary's Hospital in Newport, Isle of Wight, doctors were unable to save the sailor, who had been pulled unconscious from the water.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police said: 'We were called just after midday today to reports of a man who had been pulled from the water at Cowes.
'A man in his 60s was taken to St Mary's Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
'His next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
'At this stage the death is not being treated as suspicious. Investigations are ongoing.'
The RS Elite class race started with 21 yachts this morning, including the vessel Riff Raff, skippered by Russell Peters, but just four are listed as having finished the course.
A member of the Riff Raff team leapt into the sea to try and save the unconscious sailor before the Coastguard teams arrived.
This afternoon, a spokesman for the Isle of Wight Hospital Trust said: 'Despite the best efforts by crew, the RNLI, a medically qualified person nearby, the ambulance service and the Emergency department, the individual could not be saved.'
A spokeswoman for Lendy Cowes Week said: 'The team at Lendy Cowes Week are extremely sad to confirm the death of one of our competitors while racing here today.
'The casualty was quickly transferred to shore by an event safety boat. Medical assistance was waiting on shore and the casualty was then taken by ambulance to St Mary's Hospital, Newport, where he was pronounced dead.
'The team at Lendy Cowes Week are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.'