Yacht designer among three dead after keel failure in North Sea
Dutch yacht designer Frans Maas and two crew died in June when the yacht Capella lost her keel and capsized off Ostend. Capella was competing in the Genisol Light Vessel Race on 1 July when the keel detached and the yacht capsized off Ostend.
Three of the six crew members on board, including Maas’s grandson, climbed onto the upturned hull of Capella and were rescued by a dredger. They were later taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia after around six hours in the water.
Frans Maas (79) and Freddy Franssens (71), both from Breskens, died during the incident and were found by rescue services. A sixth member of crew, Hannes Goegebeur (18), was lost, and his body was found two weeks later.
The 100-mile Light Vessel Race set off from Zeebrugge. Conditions at the time were reported to be 22-27 knot winds, gusting 32, with waves of up to two metres. Local media reported that the Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre in Belgium had received no distress call from the yacht.
Frans Maas was a well-known Dutch yacht designer, builder and ocean racer whose designs achieved much success offshore, including an early Tonnerre de Breskens for prolific owner Piet Vroon. He had a reputation for building resilient yachts designed to contend with the demands of racing on the North Sea and events such as the Fastnet Race.
Freddy Franssens was a senior rigger who had worked for Hall Spars for 36 years. His projects had included the rig for the Volvo 70 Pirates of the Caribbean.
Top: designer Frans Maas died after the capsize. Above: the yacht Capella was found without her keel