Tributes paid to British Olympic gold medallist sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson killed on America's Cup challenger Artemis in San Francisco Bay but how could he be trapped in capsized boat for 10 minutes?

 

Officials from the world’s most famous sailing competition are investigating how a British Olympic gold medal-winner came to be trapped underwater in his capsized boat for up to ten minutes, as team-mates and competitors alike tried to come to terms with the death of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

Questions have been asked not only about how his 72ft, 11-man catamaran came to capsize during its training session, but also more fundamentally about the safety risks of his “wing-powered” catamaran which was being used for the first time in the America’s Cup.

Simpson, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver during last year’s London Games, died while training on the Swedish vessel Artemis in San Francisco Bay.

His team said he was caught underwater by the AC72 catamaran’s platform for about 10 minutes before his body was recovered. Doctors both in the water and on the shore tried in vain to revive him.

The cause of Simpson’s death has yet to be established, however. All crews not only wear crash helmets and protective flotation padding but carry a small personal oxygen supply which gives about two minutes of air. So-called ‘nanny boats’ carrying medics and divers are always present, and a police boat was quickly on the scene.

His long-term friend and teammate Iain Percy said tonight: "Yesterday I lost my closest friend of over twenty five years, the friendliest and kindest man I have ever met. I cannot believe he is no longer with us.

"Now all our thoughts should be with his wife and two amazing boys who meant the world to him. Andrew has more friends than anyone and we will continue to support his family with all our hearts."

Stephen Barclay, chief executive of the America’s Cup Event Authority, said an investigation would address why the accident occurred.

“These boats are very fast and if these sorts of things happen then there are procedures and those sorts of things that we follow,” he told the BBC. “We have boats follow these vessels, there’s divers and doctors in case such things like this happen and those procedures were followed.”

Artemis Racing chief executive Paul Cayard said: “The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened. Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”

The accident occurred two hours into a training session, with the wind speed thought to have been about 20 knots, more than sufficient speed to push such boats to their limits.

It is thought Simpson was serving as a race strategist for the boat, deciding on which direction to take and when to adopt aggressive or passive tactics. Sailors performing this role are usually positioned towards the back of the boat, though confirmed details of where he was and what he was doing at the time of the crash has yet to be released.

It remained unclear last night if the accident was a handling error while turning the boat downwind at high speed or during another manoeuvre, or if there was some sort of structural failure. Simpson had grown up racing against leading British Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie and was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list.

He lived in Sherborne in Dorset with his wife, Leah, and their two young children, but the family had temporarily moved to San Francisco so he could focus on training for the America’s Cup.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick