Saturday, 11 May 2013

America's Cup : Regatta Director Iain Murray to Conduct Review Following Tragic Loss of Artemis Crew Member

From left  Regatta Director Iain Murray, ACEA CEO Stephen Barclay, Captain Matt Bliven, US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, and Captain Thomas Cleary, San Francisco Police Department, address the media at a press conference on May 10, 2013, in San Francisco. Image copyright ACEA/Guilain Grenier

by America's Cup media

Regatta Director Iain Murray will lead a review into the events surrounding the capsize of Artemis Racing’s first AC72 and the subsequent tragic death of crewman Andrew Simpson.

During training on San Francisco Bay yesterday, Artemis Racing capsized in winds between 18 and 20 knots. The boat broke apart and Simpson, 36, became trapped.

Support vessels on site rushed to recover the crew from the water and it quickly became apparent that Simpson was missing. After he was retrieved, CPR was administered by trained professionals, both afloat and at the dock, for more than 20 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes after the incident, he was pronounced dead.

“It was less than 24 hours ago when this accident happened and the pain is still very acute for everyone involved. Our condolences go out to Andrew's family and friends, and the members of Artemis Racing,” said Stephen Barclay, chief executive of America’s Cup Event Authority, at a press briefing this morning.

“It’s too early to speculate about the causes of the accident. Iain will conduct the review and will liaise with the San Francisco Police Department and the United States Coast Guard and any other third-party experts as necessary,” Barclay said.

Murray is a veteran ocean racer and America’s Cup sailor, having been part of four America’s Cup campaigns. His knowledge of the sport is thorough and he declined to speculate on the causes, or prejudge the results of the review.

“All we know is that the boat ended up capsized, the hulls upside down, broken in half,” said Murray. “The split seconds from when the boat was sailing upwind to the pictures that we’ve all seen (of the boat turned upside down and broken apart), there’s a gap in there and that’s what we need to fill in and find out what happened.”

Artemis Racing chase boats were assisted in the recovery effort by members of ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, all of whom were on site observing the training session.

“This is a tragic reminder of the challenges faced by sailors on the water, whether they’re commercial sailors or recreational or professional sailors,” said Captain Matt Bliven of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, which will liaise with Murray on the review.

“It also underlines the importance of adequate training and proper gear to minimize the impact when something goes wrong. That’s something we’ve consistently seen from the America’s Cup organization and the participating teams – their level of preparation and training to avert these types of mishaps,” Bliven said.
No timetable has been placed on completing the review. The San Francisco Police Department is also conducting its own review as normal procedure when there is loss of life.

“Iain’s going to conduct his review and it’ll be thorough,” said Barclay. “I have every expectation that we will host a spectacular event here in the summer, but I’m not going to prejudge it. Iain will conduct his review and we will see the outcome and recommendations of that.”

Note from SailRaceWin:
It appears that Andrew Simpson was trapped under solid sections of the AC72, out of sight of the many divers and others trying to locate him. It is also understood that the Artemis Racing AC72 was bearing away when the bow dug in and the capsize followed, although the full sequence of events is not yet known.
Further to the comments from the US Coast Guard, the sailing community in Lorient, France, received a shock in late April when "Grain de Soleil", a yacht from Lorient, sent out a distress signal 600nm southwest of the Azores. No trace has been found of the yacht or the three people on board at the time. Official searches have now been called off, but the family and friends of the missing sailors are continuing their own searches with aid from the local community and Cheminees Poujoulat, as reported earlier by SailRaceWin, amongst other organisations.
While there are inherent dangers in sailing, as with other sports, the fact remains that many more people are killed on the roads on a daily basis.

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