Clipper Round the World Race: British amateur sailor Andrew Ashman dies after being hit in head by sail

Mr Ashman was a paramedic from Orpington, Kent

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The Independent Online

A British amateur sailor died in the early hours of this morning after being hit by a sail while competing in a round-the-world yacht race, organisers said.

Andrew Ashman, 49, who was competing in the Clipper race, was adjusting the sail of his team's boat when he was knocked unconscious, race organisers Clipper Ventures said.

He received medical treatment at the scene but never regained consciousness.

The family of Mr Ashman, who was a paramedic from Orpington, Kent, have been informed.

Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: "This is extremely sad news and my heart goes out to his bereaved family and friends, and to his fellow crew who have come to know Andrew with great affection during his training and the early days of this race.

"Safety is always our utmost priority, as our record shows, and we shall investigate the incident immediately in full co-operation with the authorities."

Mr Ashman was "an experienced yachtsman" and a full investigation into the tragic accident will be carried out, organisers said.

IchorCoal-clipper.jpg

His boat, sponsored by South African firm IchorCoal, was sailing around 120 nautical miles off the Portuguese coast heading towards Brazil in the first leg of the race when the incident happened.

It was just after midnight and the vessel was in moderate seas when it was hit by a Force Six strong breeze (24-30 mph / 21-27 knots) and Mr Ashman reached to adjust the sail.

He was knocked unconscious by the mainsheet and possibly the boom.

He was given immediate medical assistance and attempts were made to resuscitate him, but he failed to regain consciousness.

PA

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