British Olympic sailor dies in America’s Cup training session


A British Olympic sailor died Thursday after his Swedish team’s 72-foot catamaran capsized during a training session for the America's Cup in San Francisco Bay.

Andrew "Bart" Simpson, a double Olympic medalist, was one of an 11-man crew on board the Artemis Racing AC72 catamaran, the Artemis team website said.

Simpson, 36, from Sherborne in Dorset, was trapped under the boat and efforts to revive him failed, the website said.

"The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened,” Artemis Racing CEO Paul Cayard said in a statement at the website. “Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”

“Our prayers are with Andrew Simpson’s family, his wife and kids, and also the rest of my teammates,” Cayard said while addressing the media Thursday, according to the website. “It’s a shocking experience to go through, and we have a lot to deal with in the next few days in terms of assuring everybody’s well-being. The boat’s under control, but that’s not the first of our concerns. We’re focused on the people. That’s what we’re working with and we’ll give you more information when we’re able to.”

Artemis said doctors afloat with the team tried unsuccessfully to revive Simpson after he was freed from the wreckage, where he spent up to 10 minutes, the BBC reported.

San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge told the network that two sailors were brought to shore after the capsizing and taken to the St. Francis Yacht Club, where paramedics performed CPR on one of them. The other person's injuries were not life-threatening, she said.

The rest of the crew from the capsized boat were transferred to a support boat operated by Oracle Racing, the defending America's Cup syndicate.

Coast Guard Lt. Jeannie Crump told the BBC that it was not yet clear what caused the boat to capsize. She said a commercial salvage boat will tow the vessel to Clipper Cove, between Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.

Simpson represented Great Britain at two Olympic Games, sailing in the Star class alongside Iain Percy, his Artemis team boss, according to the BBC. The pair took gold at the Beijing 2008 Games and were close at London 2012 to topping the podium once more, only to claim silver in the medal race. Before last summer's Olympics, Simpson said that winning the America's Cup was his biggest goal.

John Derbyshire, performance director of the U.K.'s Royal Yachting Association, described Simpson as an inspiration to others. "We're devastated by the news from San Francisco today," he told the BBC. "Andrew is someone I've worked closely with since the age of 16. He was a great talent and a key figure in our world-class program over many years, culminating in his well-deserved Olympic success.”

Simpson is believed to be the second sailor to have died during training for an America’s Cup race. In 1999, Martin Wizner of the Spanish Challenge was fatally injured after being struck on the head by a broken piece of equipment.

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