Andrew Simpson, British sailor and Olympian, dies after yacht capsizes

Sailing In The Sun

The British Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson died on Thursday after his team's ultra-modern yacht capsized in the San Francisco bay and trapped him underwater during training for the America's Cup.

The 72-foot Artemis catamaran tipped over at 1.15pm local time, plunging its 13-strong crew into the water and trapping Simpson under the vessel's platform for about 10 minutes.

Rescuers pulled Simpson, 36, into a support boat and an officer from the San Francisco police department's marine unit tried to resuscitate him. He was declared dead about 20 minutes later, said San Francisco fire chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Simpson won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a crew member in the star class, and he also took silver last year at the London Games.

"The entire team is devastated by what happened," said Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard, a sailing world champion and America's Cup veteran. "Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family."

One other crew member was hurt but his condition was not said to be serious. The rest of the crew escaped unharmed and was taken to its nearby base at Alameda, where members were said to be in tears.

The coastguard said winds were a little above normal when the boat capsized half a mile north of Treasure Island. It was flying under a Swedish flag in preparation for the 34th America's Cup, sailing's most prestigious prize.

Simpson, nicknamed Bart, was born in Surrey, and lived in Dorset. He had temporarily moved to San Francisco for the training. "Moving the family to San Fran for 6 months is pretty hectic!!! The cup should be fun though!!" he tweeted in March.

He was recruited to the Artemis team, named after the Greek hunting goddess, as a strategist.

The crew reported glitches with the boat, which can reach speeds of 45mph, after it launched last November, according to a posting on the America's Cup website, and it needed to be modified earlier this year.

Coast Guard Lt Jeannie Crump said the cause of the accident was unclear.

The America's Cup race is scheduled to run from July through to September. The Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers starts on 4 July, with the final in September.

Powered by article was written by Rory Carroll, for on Friday 10th May 2013 01.09 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010