Sarah Young, a 40-year old company owner from London, died after falling overboard in the Pacific Ocean, while competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht race

A crewmember racing in the Clipper Round the World Race has died after being swept overboard in the Pacific. Sarah Young, 40, was one of the crew of the yacht IchorCoal. She was swept overboard from the cockpit while not clipped on.

A statement by race organisers Clipper Ventures says that Young was wearing an AIS man overboard device but it took nearly 45 minutes to recover her, by which time she was unconscious. Attempts to resuscitate her failed.

Sarah Young was one of the crew aboard the IchorCoal boat. She was competing in the current Clipper leg that takes crew across the Pacific Ocean from Qingdao, China, to Seattle, USA and has over 3,242 miles left to its destination.

The incident in gale force conditions midway through the leg of the race from Qingdao in China to Seattle, a leg that in previous races has seen very tough and windy conditions. During the last Clipper Race in 2014 a crewmember from the yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire was swept overboard during a sail change on the same leg of the race. Andrew Taylor was recovered using positions from an AIS man overboard device after more than an hour of searching.

The race organisers report that next of kin have been informed and say that all thoughts are now with Young’s family, teammates, and loved ones on and off the race.

Sarah Young Clipper Race fatality

This second Clipper fatality occured just six months after Andrew Ashman, 49, from Kent, was killed aboard the same vessel after being knocked unconscious off the Portuguese coast.


Official report of the Clipper fatality

Skipper Darren Ladd reports that Young was tidying the cockpit after reefing the mainsail in 35–40 knots of wind, when she was knocked from her position by a wave. She fell back toward the guard wire and was swept under it by another wave at 2227 local time. She was not tethered onto the yacht at this time and was swept away in strong winds.

The boat immediately applied its man overboard drill but was hampered by the conditions and lack of direct visual. Her body was recovered on board using her AIS signal at 2344 local time, and although resuscitation was attempted and telephone assistance provided by the Praxes Medical Group Doctors, the Clipper Race’s remote telemedicine support service, she never regained consciousness.

The cause of death is yet to be confirmed but is suspected as drowning or exposure. All other crew are reported safe and well and the team are working with Race Officials to evaluate the options on diversion or continuing to Seattle.

The incident happened on day 12 of the ninth race in the 14-stage Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, at 39 North, 160 East, approaching the International Date Line.

Sarah Young was the owner of a personal lifestyle company providing services for private high net worth individuals. A keen adventurer, the Clipper Race had been an ambition of hers for some years, and she said celebrating her 40th birthday just before setting sail from London was the perfect way to start her adventure.

Sarah Young Clipper Race fatality

Prior to the Clipper Race she had done other expeditions including spending a year in Sabah, northern Borneo, working for Raleigh Malaysia. Sarah had also led teams in Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, had been mountaineering in Nepal and did a world-first 18 day trek down the Skeleton Coast unsupported. Young had also run a marathon and was a Divemaster. She leaves a partner but no children.

Young was one of the round the world crew and aside from missing a couple of races in Australia due to the passing of her mother, she had sailed more than half the way round the world, with over 20,000 nautical miles of racing under her belt between London and China, where the yacht had departed on March 21.

A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, into the full details of the incident in cooperation with the appropriate authorities. Race Officials are now supporting the skipper and the crew through this tragic ordeal.

Clipper Race Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston stated: “On behalf of everyone at Clipper Ventures, I am deeply saddened by the loss of Sarah. She was a very popular and integral member of the Clipper Race family and knew our boats well, having sailed with us since London last summer. The safety of our crew has always been and continues to be our main priority and we shall investigate the incident immediately in full cooperation with the authorities.”

This is the second fatality on board the yacht IchorCoal during this race. In September 2015 on the first leg from the UK to Brazil, crewmember Andrew Ashman, 49, was knocked unconscious by the mainsheet and failed to regain consciousness despite immediate medical assistance.

The Clipper Race was established almost 20 years ago and this is its tenth edition. Over 4,000 amateur crew have been trained and participated in previous races. 709 crew are participating in the 2015-16 edition which left London at the end of August, and will return there on 30 July 2016.