Sailing hero Simpson dies

Sailing hero Simpson dies

British yacht-racing champion and two-time Olympic medalist Andrew "Bart" Simpson drowned on Thursday when his vessel capsized in San Francisco Bay during training for the America's Cup, his team said.

Simpson, 36, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was sailing on the Artemis, Sweden's entry in the America's Cup, when the catamaran overturned, according to a statement posted on the Artemis racing website.

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

The twin-hulled boat was performing a so-called "bear-away" maneuver, turning away from the wind, when one bow dropped under the water's surface, and the vessel flipped over, America's Cup spokesman Tim Jeffery told Reuters.

Simpson ended up trapped beneath the boat in the water and had to be pulled out by rescue divers, who tried and failed to revive him, Jeffery said. The yacht was "very badly damaged," but the team has a backup boat that is expected to be ready to sail in June, he said.

The incident was believed to be the first fatality in connection with the America's Cup since the early 1990s, when a crew member from a Spanish team died in a training accident off the coast of Majorca in the Mediterranean, Jeffery said. The Artemis website said Simpson was part of an 11-member sailing team and that all other crew members had been accounted for following the mishap.

San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge confirmed that one male crew member had died in the accident and said he was estimated to have remained under water for 10 to 15 minutes before he was recovered. She said one other sailor from the Artemis was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and later released.
The precise number of people aboard the Artemis when it tipped over was not immediately clear.

Boehland said the Artemis capsized at about 1 pm local time (0130 IST on Friday) northwest of Treasure Island. The crippled vessel remained in the bay, and the Coast Guard established a 100-yard (91-metre) safety zone around the boat, she said.

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