Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Gladwell's Line- Tragedy in San Francisco + RYA Tribute Video

by Richard Gladwell on 13 May 2013
Iain Percy and Bart Simpson cross the finish line in the Medal race of the Star class in the 2012 Olympics to win the Silver Medal, having led the fleet going into the final race. Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
Following is the editorial published in Sail-World NZ's newsletter published on May 10, NZT. It is republished for those who don't subscribe to Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter.

Tragedy hit the 2013 America's Cup with the death of double Olympic Medalist, Andrew 'Bart' Simpson.

He was a member of the British sailing elite, that sadly has now lost two of its number, with 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist John Merrick's death in a car crash in 1997, and now that of Bart Simpson.

Bart was part of an era of achievement by Great Britain, that will never be matched again in sailing.

Two of the world's Sailing families are in mourning for one of their own. The Olympic family for having lost a double Medalist; and the America's Cup sailing family for having lost a great competitor, who looked set to become part of the next British America's Cup Challenge.

At Sail-World we mourn the passing of one of the characters of the sport, as well as one of its great achievers, and our condolences to his family and many friends.

Of course, the world of sailing is in shock at today's turn of events.


Death is sadly part of our sport, maybe more so than most. Previously an accepted part of offshore and ocean sailing, this is a rare instance in inshore racing and in the America's Cup in particular.

Every sailor that goes on the water must accept that no matter what safety precautions are taken, there is a chance they may never come back.

That is part of the risk we all take - from the novice Optimist sailor, to the Volvo Ocean Racer.

But that does not ease the shock, when a sailor gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and serious injury or death results.

Part of the attraction of sailing is taking on the elements, but also tempered by the sober knowledge that you never get a second chance with the sea.


Only sailors understand the attraction of sailing in light winds and strong. Those outside the sport judge us by different standards, and with the benefit of hindsight.

The question is where to from here?

Already two inquiries are underway, one by the San Francisco Police Department. Quite where those go is unclear at this stage.

There will obviously be a lot of issues raised, and things that could have been done better. Losing two boats, and one death, in the course of eight months is not a good look in the eyes of the public or officialdom.

The point is that the AC72's are new boats, a new type of sailing, and we will all learn from it. Those lessons may go right through the sport.


Nevertheless the America's Cup Regatta must go on.

There are stringent safety provisions, which are already in place for the racing, It seems those were substantially in place for the fatal training session.

There is little that can be done in the racing itself. Maybe the wind limit will come back to 30kts. Anything else is going to affect teams that have designed and prepared for the regatta.

The bottom line, if a team feels that conditions are too dangerous, or they are not prepared, is not to race.

Yes, they will lose the point, but in the Louis Vuitton Cup Qualification Round with all three competitors at least going directly into the Semi-Finals, there is not a lot at stake.


While one team may lose the point, by the same token the other team has to complete the course to win the point, and in the process may lose their boat. That is a risk that is always inherent in high performance sailing, which is often a test of seamanship as well as just sailing fast.

One thing is for sure, after today's tragic events, no-one can blame a team, or individuals for electing not to race.

And in the same vein, everyone that goes on the water knows what the risks are. That a combination of a sudden gust of wind, an unusual wave, some gear breaking, and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, could cause injury or cost you, your life.

Very sadly, Andrew Simpson has joined a long list of very experienced sailors who have lost their lives at sea, pursuing the sport they love - Hans Horrevoets, Rob James, Eric Tarbarly, and Larry Klein to name but a few.

And having learned any lessons to be had, we will continue.


Richard Gladwell
NZ and America's Cup Editor

sailworldnzl@gmail.com





[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]





Insun - AC ProgramNorth Technology - Southern SparsBarz Optics - Kids range

Related Articles

She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
A Q&A with Nicole Breault about women’s match racing in the USA
I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about women’s match racing in the USA and about her upcoming Clinegatta. I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about the state of women’s match racing in the USA, and to also hear more about her upcoming Clinegatta, which is set to unfurl on the waters of San Francisco Bay this July, and which could be a great resource for other talented female match racers who are looking to sharpen their skills.
Posted on 17 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr
A Q&A with Charles Pessler, the regatta director of the legendary STIR
I corresponded with Charles Pessler, STIR’s regatta director, to learn about the event’s recent changes and evolutions. I recently corresponded via email with Charles “Chuck” Pessler, who is serving as the regatta director of the legendary STIR, to learn more about the changes and evolutions that have taken place at the event since my 2010 trip to racing paradise.
Posted on 22 Mar
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
A Q&A with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race
I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba. The 2017 Miami to Havana Race is set to begin on March 15 and promises high adventure-both sailing-related and cultural-for the sailors lucky enough to be participating in this historical-and for now legal-race. I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race and SORC race chairman, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba.
Posted on 13 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar