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Kiwis’ tribute to dead sailor

New Zealand visitor Mary Elizabeth McKee (Photograph supplied)

Emirates Team New Zealand paid a moving tribute to Mary Elizabeth McKee, the New Zealander who lost her life in a boat collision on the eve of the 35th America’s Cup.

Mrs McKee, 62, was killed when the Zodiac she was travelling in was involved in a crash with a 17ft boat driven by a 26-year-old Bermuda resident in Hamilton Harbour on May 25.

Two men also travelling in the Zodiac, including Mrs McKee’s husband Arthur, suffered serious injuries in the crash shortly before 11pm.

Mr McKee and his wife were described as keen and experienced sailors and had travelled to the island to support Team New Zealand who were successful in their bid to win the “Auld Mug” for the first time since 2000.

Peter Burling, the Team New Zealand helmsman, described the tragedy as “incredibly sad” and revealed how he and his team-mates paid their respects to their late compatriot.

“It was obviously incredibly sad time with the tragedy in Hamilton,” Mr Burling, the youngest helmsman to win the America’s Cup, said. “We all wore black armbands on our sleeves that day and it’s just really sad when someone’s life gets cut short like that.”

According to police, the 26-year-old Bermuda resident was driving a boat from the Front Street Ferry Terminal towards White’s Island when it collided with the 9ft Zodiac. The three people travelling in the Zodiac were thrown overboard.

The Bermuda resident was arrested on suspicion of impaired operation of a watercraft. He provided breath samples and passed the test, police said, and has since been released on bail “with strict conditions”.

In the wake of the tragedy, Ralph Richardson, the Bermuda Water Safety Council chairman, stressed the need for boaters to exercise “extreme caution” when out at night.

Challenger Team New Zealand beat defender Oracle Team USA 7-1 in the America’s Cup final, the country’s third triumph overall in the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport.