Stuart Alexander on Andrew 'Bart' Simpson tragedy: Some see these super-powerful 72-foot catamarans as death traps
A major investigation into the cause of the catastrophic capsize which led to the death in San Francisco of British Olympian and America's Cup sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson will be led by the US Coastguard.
Other city and state bodies, including those concerned with the port, safety, and sport, will be joined by members of Simpson's Swedish-based Artemis team and experts brought in by the America's Cup defender and organiser, Oracle Racing USA, which is owned by computer software billionaire Larry Ellison.
A main focus will be on whether there were specific circumstances which led to the disaster or was this was an accident waiting to happen? This is the second of the new breed of super-powerful 72-foot catamarans to crash in training. Some see them as death traps.
Not only do they use a giant wing instead of conventional sails, they also lift out of the water to skim across the surface on foils. The Kiwi challengers seem to have made most progress in keeping their boat stable, but they are continually on a knife-edge.
Since the new design was stipulated by the defender, Oracle, there have been predictions of major accidents and of injury to crew members, who are themselves under huge physical pressure.
They are also at risk of injury in the event of the boat breaking up in such a way that shards of carbon fibre can hit them with life-threatening or permanently damaging force.
Full details of exactly what happened to Andrew Simpson are expected to be given at a press conference in San Francisco later today but it appears that he died as a result of being trapped under the boat when it apparently broke up.
So far, there has been no hint that the public authorities will try to stop America's Cup 34 going ahead, nor that the Swedish team would want to withdraw. A British crewman was killed in 1935 training off Southend and a Spanish crewman was killed in training prior to the 2000 America's Cup in Auckland.
But none of the challengers is keen on the choice of boat for America's Cup 34, which starts elimination races between the three challengers on 5 July ahead of the Cup Match between the winner of that series and Oracle in a best of 17 starting on 7 September. Whether either could survive a full schedule over the 14 days allocated is a matter for speculation. The boat is also very expensive to build, maintain, and campaign.
Oracle said it expected to race in anything between three and 30 knots of wind over a course that is close to the shore between the Golden Gate Bridge and the ferry terminals. Such a wide range of conditions greatly affect the handling characteristics, set-up and equipment used on the boat.
Latest in Sport
Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City: Who will be the eventual winners in the race for the Premier League title?
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker to have tests on hamstring problem
Diego Costa transfer to Chelsea impossible to stop, admits Diego Simeone
Fulham so grateful to faithful fans the players have been calling them to say thanks for renewing their season tickets
Hillsborough disaster anniversary: Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez among those at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 who lost their lives
- 1 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 2 The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’