A Tragedy struck San Francisco Bay and the America’s Cup today when Artemis Racing suffered a capsize, which resulted in the death of Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, a double Olympic medalist (Gold in 2008 in and a Silver in 2012, both in the Star class) and one of the best known sailors in Great Britain.
Andrew ’Bart’ Simpson (crew) and Ian Percy, pursued by an Outside Broadcast boat having just won the gold medal in the Star class, Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008.
Sail-World has been covering this story since first light this morning in detail.
Details are still emerging as to what happened, but it is believed that Simpson, 36, was trapped under the platform/wing after it flipped; tragically, Simpson didn’t regain conscious after he was recovered, despite medical efforts both on the water and ashore.
Video shown on a local TV Channel shows the boat completely upside down, and with the wingsail smashed, in a similar outcome to that which occurred on the October 6, 2012 incident with Oracle Team USA.
No-one was badly injured in that incident, however it did prompt a considerable exchange of information between the teams on safety issues, including the use of underwater breather systems to allow the crew to breathe for a time underwater, if trapped. However that system assumes the crew is conscious.
Conditions in the area were believed to moderate, although with plenty of whitecaps, and apparently the incident occurred during a bearaway, and the boat pitchpoled/capsized.
There has been no comment from Artemis Racing on the impact to their program, which is expected to continue. It is the second disaster to hit the team, having shattered a wingsail in Valencia, prior to going to travelling to San Francisco. The team has a second AC72 in San Francisco, due to be launched at the end of May.
In a media conference which lasted just 80 seconds, CEO Paul Cayard said:
'We obviously had a tragic day on the Bay, today.
'Our thoughts and prayers are with Andrew Simpson's family, his wife and kids, and also with the rest of our team mates.
'This is a shocking experience to go through, and we have a lot to deal with in the next few days in terms of assuring everybody's well-being.'
'The boat itself is under control, but it is certainly not the first of our concerns, we're focussed on the people.'
'That is what we are working with and on, and we will give you more information when we are able to.'
This is the second time in recent memory that an America’s Cup sailor has been killed while training for the Cup; Martin Wizner of 'Spanish Challenge' was killed in 1999 when a piece of equipment struck his head.
Sail-World expresses our deepest condolences to Simpson’s family, friends and teammates. Our thoughts too are now very much for the Artemis team which includes a number of Australian sailors.
There is as always a lot of other news today, but right now we do not even feel like detailing, you will find them below.