Man killed in Northland sailing tragedy was ACT Party candidate Stuart Pedersen

The sailer killed after a yacht sank off the coast of Northland on Monday was an ACT Party candidate.

Stuart Pedersen died and another three were injured after the 47-foot yacht ran into trouble in bad weather and went down around 37 kilometres off the coast of Cape Brett.

Pedersen was ranked number six in ACT's list for the 2017 election, and on Tuesday, ACT leader David Seymour said news of his passing was "gutting".

"Stuart was a kind, humble successful man. He gave back to his community, running a trust to introduce underprivileged kids to sailing. We just can't believe that he's been lost like this," Seymour told Newshub.

"Stuart was one of the most pleasant people in politics. He was not only widely-loved by his political allies, but he was somebody that his opponents - when he stood for election - had a lot of respect for too."

An image from the rescue.
An image from the rescue. Photo credit: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

In a statement to SunLive, the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club said he was one of its "leading club members".

"You may have seen news reports about a yacht which sank off Cape Brett, with one sailor dead, and another three in hospital in serious condition," the statement said.

"My information is that the deceased sailor is one of our leading club members, tornado sailor and chairman of BOPSAT, Stuart Pedersen.

"Fellow club member Bruce Goodwin, Stuart's wife Pamela and Pamela's brother-in-law Steve are the survivors.

"Bruce and Steve have been released from hospital but unfortunately, Pamela is still in intensive care."

In a post to its Facebook page, Coastguard Northern Region said the sailers made their distress call after floundering in heavy weather.

After losing their liferaft in the six-metre swells they then abandoned their vessel.

Two rescue helicopters, an air force P3 Orion, a Coast Guard ship and a merchant vessel responded to the incident.

The Orion dropped a life raft to the crew, and all four were winched up to the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

"Tragically, one of the sailors hasn't survived the ordeal," the Coastguard said on its Facebook page.

The three injured people were taken to Whangarei Hospital.