America’s Cup sailing in San Francisco has been grounded. Teams were staying ashore until today as a mark of respect to British Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson after he was killed in a training session on San Francisco Bay.
But the accident review committee set up to inquire into the incident, which saw the 72-foot Swedish challenger Artemis capsize, after its first meeting, sent out an advisory telling all four teams involved not to sail until at least the middle of next week.
The other three are the defender, Oracle, plus challengers Emirates Team New New Zealand and, from Italy, the Prada-backed Luna Rossa. The committee has also advised the teams not to sail the smaller 45-foot versions of the boat in which they have been both competing and training.
The Artemis boat had been training alongside the local holder of the America’s Cup, Larry Ellison’s Oracle, when it tried to turn downwind. It has yet to be established whether the wing-powered boat then turned over or whether there was a structural failure, or whether one followed the other.
Simpson had been on the lower side of the boat adjusting the second, forward, sail. He became trapped in the wreckage and by the time he could be rescued – there were support boats on hand with both medics and divers - he was dead. Lengthy attempts at resuscitation all failed.
The committee set up by the race management hopes to report within two weeks, but will also wait for a report by the San Francisco Police Department and will also liaise throughout with the US Coastguard.
It is the USCG that will have to issue special permits before racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger elimination trials can go ahead on 5 July and the match between the winner and Oracle can go ahead on 7 September.