The Big Blue Ocean Exploration

Sailor dies after Swedish boat capsizes during America’s Cup training

Entire crew of Artemis Racing team tossed overboard in mishap; cause unknown, though wind was said to be above normal

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The Artemis Racing team of Sweden in action; photo courtesy of America’s Cup Facebook page

 

A sailor of an America’s Cup team from Sweden died when the team’s sailboat capsized during training a half-mile north of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, causing the entire crew to be tossed overboard Thursday afternoon.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle and the team’s website, rescue crews plucked 11 sailors of the Artemis Racing team from the water, including Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who was taken by an Artemis support boat to the St. Francis Yacht Club where CPR by a team paramedic continued.

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Andrew Simpson; photo courtesy of Sander Van Der Borch, Artemis Racing

Simpson, a Brit, was pronounced dead a short time after he arrived onshore, San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. According to America’s Cup website, he had been trapped under the platform for an estimated 10 minutes.

The Artemis Racing website reported that “despite attempts to revive him, by doctors afloat and subsequently ashore, his life was lost.”

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

One other team member was treated for minor injuries at the same yacht club while the remaining sailors were transported to the team’s base in Alameda.

What caused the 72-foot catamaran with a wingsail to capsize was not known. Coast Guard auxiliary member Bart Rugo told the Chronicle that the winds Thursday were a little above normal.

“You always have to pay attention to the wind,” Rugo said. “If you don’t make a turn at the right time with a boat like that, it’s easy to go over. With that much sail, the margin of error is small.”

The Chronicle also raised speculation that the boat had some previous issues.

From the Chronicle:

The Artemis team had hoped to launch and christen the boat in October, but the planned ceremony was delayed after the crew “heard noises,” according to a posting on the America’s Cup website.

 

The boat first launched in November. But after some training sessions in February, the team decided to suspend its sailing program “in favor of boat modifications,” the site said.

 

It is unclear when the crew resumed training.

Simpson was a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Britain. He joined the team in February with the job of providing weather and tactics support to the afterguard.

It was uncertain what the team’s plans are for racing. America’s Cup Finals in San Francisco are scheduled to begin Sept. 7, preceded by the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series that kicks off July 4.

Here is some raw video from the Chronicle, showing the capsized boat and some crew members getting rescued. Turn volume down to avoid beeping noise: