TRIBUTES have been paid to a powerboat racer who died after his craft flipped over at high speed during a race.
Mike Lovell, from Southampton , suffered multiple injuries in the incident off Weymouth, Dorset, on Sunday.
He was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital but race organisers P1 SuperStock confirmed yesterday that he had died overnight.
Friends have been left devastated by the loss of a man who “touched the lives of many”.
A heartbroken colleague said the 27-year-old had “loved every second” of his piloting and was “living his dream”.
Mr Lovell’s navigator, 32-year-old Dan Whapples, from Warsash, last night remained in a serious but stable condition following the crash.
A report has already been made to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch which has said it is aware of the tragedy and will be “making inquiries to determine what action is appropriate”.
As reported, the pair were taking part in the national powerboat racing championship for the Eastleighbased Peters & May team when the incident unfolded.
Hampshire’s champion powerboat racer Shelley Jory -Leigh was among those watching the race, later reporting that the vessel had caught in the wash of other boats.
Mr Lovell was in his first season as powerboat driver for Southampton’s multi-championship-winning sports car firm Brookspeed, where he worked as a race engineer.
The Peters & May boat he was driving is run from Brookspeed’s Southampton workshop in Empress Road.
Last night company founder Martin Braybrook told the Daily Echo Mr Lovell had wanted to be a motor mechanic from the age of 14, working hard to join the firm and quickly establishing himself as a vital member of the team.
He said: “Mike had a warm and engaging personality, and was able to form a rapport with Brookspeed customers – often going that extra mile to ensure that he provided the service they came to expect.
“He was always keen to learn and grow his vast knowledge, and could pretty much turn his hand to any engine – anything from a humble generator, up to supercars and powerboats.
“When the opportunity arose for him to be involved in the amateur racing he embraced it whole-heartedly, jumping at the chance to pilot the boat. He loved every second of it – living his dream.
“Mike was very popular and much loved by his colleagues and his peers in the motor racing community.
He touched the lives of many during his short time, and we all feel stunned at his loss.
“There is nothing that can salve this great sadness, and love and thoughts go to his family and friends. Mike, I miss you immeasurably.”