UK sailor dies after being swept overboard in Indian Ocean during round-the-world race

A British sailor has died after being swept overboard during a round-the-world yacht race, organisers said.

Simon Speirs, from Bristol, was taking part in the Clipper Round the World Race from South Africa to Australia.

The 60-year-old retired solicitor was sailing for Great Britain on board the CV30, which was in sixth place and had reached the Indian Ocean.

Mr Speirs, who had more than 40 years' dinghy experience, was on the foredeck of the 70ft yacht helping to change a sail when he was washed over the side of the boat during gale force winds.

He was clipped on with his safety tether at the time of the accident, but became separated from the yacht during high winds.

Mr Speirs's team mates and the medical team on board did their best to save him, getting him back on board in 36 minutes, but he never regained consciousness.

All other crew are reported safe and are being supported remotely by the Clipper Race organisers.

"Simon was on the foredeck assisting with a headsail change from Yankee 3 when he was washed overboard," organisers said in a statement.

"Although he was clipped on with his safety tether, he became separated from the yacht in the Southern Ocean in a rough sea state, in 20 knots of wind, gusting 40.

"The team's man overboard recovery training kicked into immediate effect and despite the rough conditions, Simon was recovered back on board by the skipper and crew within 36 minutes, at which point CPR was immediately administered by three medically trained crew, which included a GP.

"However, Simon sadly never regained consciousness and was pronounced deceased. The cause of death is unconfirmed at this time but thought to be by drowning."

The statement added: "At the time of the incident, Simon was clipped on, wearing his lifejacket, which included an AIS beacon, as well as approved waterproof ocean oilskins.

"A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, into the full details of the incident, including the reasons his safety tether did not keep him on board, in cooperation with the appropriate authorities."

Organisers have confirmed that Mr Speirs was given a sea burial "following medical advice and all considerations".

It was a Christian service led by his skipper and crew, and was followed at home by his family.

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