Sailor wins up to £1.6m after accident on tycoon’s superyacht

Superyacht Eleonora E under tow

A skipper has reportedly won damages of up to £1.6m after an accident aboard a superyacht, in which he was hit in the face by a 10kg steel pulley.

Yachtsman Adam Prior was working aboard Eleonora E, a £6m schooner owned through a company by retired millionaire businessman Zbynek Zak, when the accident happened during a race off the Isle of Wight in July 2015. The impact of Prior’s injuries meant he ultimately had to give up his career at sea.

It’s not been a good year for Zak. The news comes just months after the schooner was left half submerged in the port of Tarragona in June, after a maritime supply vessel collided with it. The yacht was eventually refloated. (Footage of the accident below).

It is reported that 40-year-old Prior sued Peras Ltd, the company that owns Eleonora E, for £3.2m. In his case, he argued that he suffered brain damage and that the accident was caused by a combination of poor rigging maintenance and unsafe weather, with winds up to 30 knots. Peras denied the allegations.

A four-day trial at London’s High Court has concluded that blame can be apportioned equally to both Prior and the superyacht owners. This means Prior could be awarded up to £1.6m (50 per cent of the damages sought) in compensation after the claim is assessed.

During the trial, it was revealed that a metal rod was attached to a 10kg pulley block. The block slipped free after being stuck on metal sheeting and hit Prior in the face, leaving him sprawled across the deck.

Judge Richard Davison found that the “dangerous” sheeting was the cause of the accident, ruling that it had “no practical purpose” and holding the ship owners at fault for providing dangerous equipment.

However, Davison also concluded that Prior held responsibility for entering a dangerous area of the ship that featured heavy blocks running free on sliders, and extensive rigging. The judge ruled that Prior had not checked the area was clear, nor crouched low while moving across it. It is understood Prior walked across the “danger triangle” as it was the most direct route to cross the deck, and race conditions necessitated saving time.

Davison also ruled the wind and poor weather conditions had played no part in the accident.

First launched in 2000, 51-metre Eleonora E is a replica of the classic schooner Westward. The yacht has accommodation for nine guests and a mahogany-panelled dining room.

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