Andrew Simpson died from 'blunt trauma with drowning' says report into America's Cup training death

The two-time Olympic medallist died in San Francisco

British Olympic champion Andrew Simpson died from “blunt trauma with drowning” after the Swedish America’s Cup craft he was sailing capsized and broke apart in San Francisco Bay, according to a medical-examiner’s report released on Tuesday.

Simpson, 36, a two-time Olympic medallist and father of two young boys, suffered multiple blows to his head and body in the May 9 accident involving the 72-foot Artemis Racing catamaran, the San Francisco medical-examiner’s report said.

In the moments before it capsized, the yacht was turning downwind in a so-called bear-away manoeuvre while travelling at about 30 knots, or 34 miles per hour, with wind of about 20 knots, or 23 miles per hour, the report says.

The front of the vessel then dipped beneath the surface, the port hull broke and inverted on top of the wing, according to the report. The precise sequence of events was not clear from the report, nor did it explain why Simpson was unable to find his way out.

A knowledgeable source, who requested anonymity, said that the craft had turned to head home because the wind had whipped up to at or near a team-imposed limit. The medical-examiner’s report mentions nothing about the wind limit, and representatives of Artemis did not return calls and emails.

Chuck Hawley, who served on a panel that investigated the incident for the America’s Cup, took issue with the report’s narrative that the port hull broke first. He believes the main crossbeam broke before the boat “folded up in a very peculiar way” and trapped Simpson between layers of “very tough material.”

“I don’t know we’re any closer to knowing what happened,” Hawley, who has investigated six fatal sailing accidents, told Reuters. But piecing together what happened presents special challenges because the yacht was the first of a new generation of boats pushing the limits of speed and design.

The wrecked Artemis boat, under which Andrew Simpson OBE was trapped and died The wrecked Artemis boat, under which Andrew Simpson OBE was trapped and died  

Simpson was wearing a helmet, wetsuit, flotation device and shoes when he was trapped for approximately 10 minutes beneath the high-tech yacht, the medical-examiner’s report said.

Four chase boats helped the other 10 crew members off the crippled sailboat, the report said.

“But the subject remained trapped for approximately 10 minutes,” it said. “The subject was then located, floating in the waters of the bay, unconscious.”

A toxicology report found that the only drug in Simpson’s system at the time of his death was caffeine.

The Artemis yacht, which some have said was problematic from the start, was to have been retired on the day it capsized.

The accident at one point threatened to scuttle the famed sailing regatta, but racing continued after a number of rule changes were made, including substantial reductions to the wind limits. Oracle Team USA successfully defended the trophy with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Emirates Team New Zealand.

America’s Cup spokesman Peter Rusch called the report “comprehensive” and said, “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Andrew Simpson’s family and friends.”

Artemis skipper Iain Percy and Simpson had been close friends since they were 10 years old. They went through Britain’s youth sailing program together and then on to the Olympics, where they won gold in 2008.

The two also grew up sailing with Sir Ben Ainslie, who helped Oracle win the Cup after he was installed as U.S. team’s tactician during the finals. Ainslie, Percy and Simpson’s wife, Leah, have set up a foundation in Simpson’s name to support youth sailing.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea