A Tauranga sailor who died after his yacht sunk off the coast of Northland is being remembered as a cheerful and widely loved member of his community.
Stuart Pedersen, his wife and two other crew members fought for two hours in the water waiting to be rescued.
By the time the rescue helicopter had arrived, Petersen was dead.
- One dead, three injured after boating incident off Northland
- Man killed in Northland sailing tragedy was ACT Party candidate Stuart Pedersen
The yacht had sunk two hours earlier off the coast of Cape Brett.
His three friends were pulled to safety and his body was recovered in a challenging rescue operation.
"Clearly going coastal there were big seas, the wind was increasing," says Mark Cannell, chief aircrew officer of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.
"Once we got out to the area the enormity sunk in."
As their yacht went down , they lost their life raft too.
An air force Orion had to drop another raft to them as they waited for the rescue helicopter to arrive.
Had it been any longer, Petersen's wife would likely have died too.
"The conditions were challenging on the day," says Cannell. "The Orion was overhead, they deployed a life raft just to try and get the people out of the water. We got there and saw there were two people in need of assistance."
When he wasn't out on the water, Pedersen worked passionately as Tauranga's ACT Party candidate.
Leader David Seymour says the news is just gutting.
"Stuart was a kind, humble, successful man," says Seymour. "He gave back to his community, running a trust to introduce underprivileged kids to sailing. We just can't believe he's been lost like this."
Pedersen was an active member of the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club. He also chaired the Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy Trust and previously spoke to Newshub about his work.
"I guess we felt that kids in New Zealand should have equal opportunity to go and try a sport like sailing," he said at the time.
"Around the world, it's kind of a rich person's sport, but we felt that in New Zealand it didn't have to be like that."
Stuart's wife Pamela is tonight recovering in Whangarei Hospital, while the other two people who were rescued have now been discharged.