TRIBUTES have been paid to a New Forest sailor who died in an accident.

The death of Zane Gills, a 37-year-old Australian national, was announced by his wife Sarah 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 lived with his wife in Lymington, had participated in sailing events around the world, including the Volvo Ocean Race.

Officials from the organisation behind the famously tough race said: "The Ocean Race family and the entire sailing community is saddened to learn of the passing of Zane Gills, who raced with Team Telefónica in the 2011-12 edition of the race.

"We offer our deepest condolences to all of his family and friends."

The crew of MAPFRE, a Volvo Ocean 65 yacht crewed by Mr Gills during the 2011 race, also paid tribute.

In a statement, they said: "Our deepest condolences to all your family and friends and to the entire sailing community.

"Our partner Zane Gills has left us.

"A great bow, an excellent sailor and an unbeatable person."

According to reports, Mr Gills died aboard a boat in Barcelona.

Mrs Gills said: "We ask respectfully for space at this time and we will inform everyone of funeral arrangements in Lymington and Australia soon."

Friends of the couple have spoken of their sadness at the loss of a "bright light" and "happy, friendly, chatty, peaceful and calm soul" who "made time for everyone".

One said, "We are devastated," while another said a "shining light has been extinguished".

Mrs Gills has asked for any photos of footage of him to be contributed for a video in his memory. Material can be sent via WeTransfer to