The helicopter was tasked to sling load two large metal hooks between two points on a wharf. The first hook was off-loaded, but as the helicopter was lifting the second hook, the tail rotor contacted a solar panel at the top of a light pole. Control of the aircraft was lost and it was observed to perform a nose high turn before striking the water. The helicopter floated inverted and the pilot was able to evacuate himself and swim to a boat. It is considered likely that while concentrating on the position of the load, the pilot diverted his attention from the operation of the helicopter and allowed it to descend, which resulted in the tail rotor strike.