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 sailors in Great Britain. 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.
'The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened,' said CEO Paul Cayard. 'Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.'
Fortunately, all other crew members were safely brought ashore by chase boats, but at least one other sailor was injured. According to reports, the capsize occurred during a bear away maneuver in the vicinity of Treasure Island. The team’s first-generation AC72 appeared wrecked, with structural damage visible from helicopter footage and her wingsail destroyed, but Paul Cayard, the team's CEO, was clear in his press conference that people, not boats, are the team's foremost priority.
Artemis Racing is now the second team to capsize an AC72, after Oracle’s first-generation boat capsized-also during a bear-away maneuver-in October. Fortunately for Oracle, all crewmembers were (mostly) uninjured, although the boat and wingsail were destroyed.
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. Please stay tuned to the website for the latest news from this awful accident, as well as news on Artemis’ go-forward plan.
And while this awful tragedy is casting a long and dark shadow on other sailing news, inside, you’ll also find updates from the Charleston to Bermuda Race, the Bayview Mackinac Race, the 159th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, and the Robie Pierce Regattas for Disabled Sailors.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor - 11:21 PM Thu 9 May 2013 GMT
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