Artemis crew member and Olympic medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson dies following the capsize of the America’s Cup 72ft catamaran
British Olympic double medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson (36) has died after the Swedish America’s Cup catamaran Artemis, on which he was a crew member, capsized during training in San Francisco.
The accident happened at around 12.30 local time when the 72ft Cup boat capsized and is said to have trapped Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson under the boat. According to news reports, emergency crews were on site and performing CPR on Simpson who was trapped under the platform for an estimated 10 minutes.
While one other crewmember was understood to have been taken to the St Francis Yacht Club, his injuries were not life threatening according to a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Fire Department.
“The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened,” said CEO Paul Cayard. “Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”
Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson had recently joined Artemis Racing, where the team’s sailing director was his childhood friend and fellow crew member Iain Percy, as a strategist. Together the pair had won Olympic gold at the 2008 Olympics and silver last year in Weymouth.
The reasons for Artemis’ capsize are unknown.
The capsize is the second in the run up to the 34th America’s Cup after the defenders Oracle capsized the first of their two 72ft Cup boats in October last year. Although there were no injuries in this case, the incident sent shockwaves through the America’s Cup community. The AC72 boats can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots (46mph). The risk of being trapped under a capsized boat is one that has been taken seriously by all four teams. Crews are equipped with body armour, knives and personal oxygen bottles in order to cope with such situations and have undergone survival training courses.
This is the second time a sailor has died during training for the America’s Cup. In 1999, Martin Wizner of the Spanish Challenge was killed when a genoa halyard turning block exploded and hit him on the head.
The latest incident is a tragic blow to Artemis Racing’s troubled build up to the 34th America’s Cup. Having suffered a dismasting during training in Valencia a year ago followed by structural problems with the first of two planned 72 footers shortly after she was launched, the team were in the process of re-configuring their second boat to use hydrofoils after lining up against America’s Cup defenders Oracle Racing earlier in the season.