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DISASTER: America’s Cup Challenger capsizes AC72

Published on May 9th, 2013

The lead-up to the 34th America’s Cup had its challenges as teams adapted to the new AC72 catamaran in San Francisco, CA. While defender Oracle Team USA was first to encounter trouble when their boat was nearly destroyed, it was Swedish challenger Artemis Racing with incurred the greatest grief when structural failure on their boat led to a fatality. Here is the timeline on that dreaded day:

13:41 – Artemis Racing capsizes their AC72 (boat #1) on May 9, 2013. Structural damage may be cause. One death confirmed. Not certain if it was crew or support person. Details forthcoming. Photo by CBS News.



14:34 – San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said the two crew were injured when the Artemis Racing catamaran capsized at about 1 p.m. near Treasure Island, a former naval station in the bay. Talmadge said both were brought to shore and taken to the St. Francis Yacht Club, where paramedics performed CPR on one of the two. That person was pronounced dead a short time later. Officials said the other person’s injuries were not life-threatening. – Full story

AndrewSimpson-375x50015:10 – It is with immense sadness that Artemis Racing confirms the tragic death of crewmember Andrew “Bart” Simpson today in San Francisco. – Full story

16:14 – No details yet on sequence of events. Inverted platform indicates a capsize/pitchpole. Front beam and port hull damage could have occurred on impact. This could be why wing is under starboard hull. Somehow Bart got caught underwater for too long.

17:15 – Team CEO Paul Cayard expresses his condolences at a media news conference, but provides no further details on the incident.

17:39 – Artemis Racing crewman Andrew “Bart” Simpson, a British double Olympic medalist, died today when the team’s AC72 catamaran capsized while training on San Francisco Bay. Simpson was one of the 11-man crew aboard. All other crewmembers were successfully rescued.

Artemis Racing is the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.

Simpson was trapped underneath the boat and despite attempts to revive him, by doctors afloat and subsequently ashore, his life was lost. Officials believe he was trapped underwater for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Simpson and another sailor were brought ashore and taken to the St. Francis Yacht Club. CPR was performed on Simpson, but he was pronounced dead a short time later. Officials say the other person’s injuries were not life-threatening.

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

The 36-year-old Simpson had competed in the Olympics with Iain Percy, Artemis Racing Sailing Team Director and Tactician. In the Star (keelboat) event, the duo won gold at the 2008 Games and silver at the 2012 Games.

The Artemis Racing team has not revealed the cause of the accident. Video from local news helicopters revealed an overturned platform, with the wing lying on the water surface under the starboard hull. The forward cross beam was damaged, and the port hull had sheared apart just forward of the rudder.

One witness said the boat pitch poled, with the impact causing the beam and hull to break apart. Another source said the forward beam gave way, which then led the hull to snap just forward of the aft beam, and the mast then fell over. The boat began to cartwheel, ultimately trapping Simpson underneath and drowning him.

A commercial salvage boat towed the boat to Clipper Cove, between Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.

The team was sailing their first AC72, which had been plagued with performance issues since it was launched. The construction of the team’s second boat had recently been completed, and was delivered to its Alameda base on Tuesday (May 7).

The team had previously stated they would begin sailing the second boat in June. It is not known if today’s incident will affect that schedule. The Louis Vuitton challenger series begins July 7, with the America’s Cup to begin on September 7, 2013.
(May 10, 2013) – Iain Percy, long-term friend and Artemis Racing teammate with whom Andrew Simpson won his Olympic Star gold and silver medals, has commented:

“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.”

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