A PROFESSIONAL sailor, whose body was found three days after Christmas, died after he fell off a yacht in Spain.

An inquest into the death of Zane Richard Gills, 36, of Captains Row in Lymington, revealed he had fallen from the vessel docked in Port Vell in Barcelona.

The hearing held remotely from Winchester Coroners Court heard Mr Gills had travelled to Spain for Christmas to spend the holiday season with his brother, Kristyn.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Kristyn described his brother as a "highly decorated and professional sailor", adding that he was "extremely fit and very athletic".

Kristyn, who was the captain of the 34-metre yacht Baiurdo VI that was moored in Port Vell, explained that the pair had gone for a bike ride on Boxing Day before going out for dinner and drinks.

He said that they returned to the yacht at "around 1.30am" on December 27 after drinking a mixture of beers, gin and rum. Kristyn told the hearing his brother had drunk “quite a lot”.

Kristyn said he had to help his brother onto the yacht due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed and he was unable to take him downstairs to bed.

Mr Gills was left in the cockpit but at around 6.30am he fell from the vessel.

It is believed - due to evidence from Mr Gills's Garmin device - that he was in the water for 10 minutes before he died.

At 7.15am, Kristyn noticed that his brother was not in his cabin.

When Mr Gills had not returned by midday, a missing person's report was filed and his wife Sarah flew out on the first flight from the UK.

His body was found under the yacht by divers on December 28.

The hearing was told that when Mrs Gills arrived she found handprints in the salt on lip of the the stern of the vessel which she believed had belonged to her husband.

In her statement read to the hearing, she added that her husband was not a good drinker and stated “he would become floppy and incoherent”.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, area coroner Jason Pegg said: “It seems, on the balance of probabilities, Zane fell from the yacht and once in the water tried to get himself back on the yacht.

“I do find the marks on the stern of the yacht were Zane’s hand indicated he attempted to get out of the water.

“Sadly Zane’s attempts to recover himself were unsuccessful.”

He added: “His earlier consumption of alcohol had contributed to his death.”

The coroner said that the cause of death was asphyxia combined with submersion.

His death had been announced on New Year's Eve by Mrs Gills.

Writing on Facebook she said: “It’s with disbelief I have to share with you that Zane has tragically died in an accident.

"We are all totally shocked and devastated by the news.

"He was an incredible man and will be very sorely missed.”

Mr Gills, who was born in Tasmania, Australia, took part in the world's toughest sailing events including the gruelling Volvo Ocean Race.