America’s Cup regatta director Iain Murray has revealed former Olympic champion Andrew Simpson died after being trapped under his AC72 catamaran when it nosedived during a manoeuvre that required it to change direction.
The 36-year-old, who added silver in London to the gold he won in Beijing in 2008, died on Thursday in San Francisco Bay as he trained with the Artemis Racing team ahead of this summer’s America’s Cup.
Murray was fighting back tears as he gave more details of the tragedy while also confirming he would conduct a thorough review alongside the US Coastguard.
The Australian said: “The boats were training and at one o’clock they completed one of the normal manoeuvres which is to bear away which would happen at one of the marks.
“It is one of the more difficult manoeuvres in sailing any fast boat whether it be a skiff, a catamaran or anything in that you change the direction and the wind flows across the boat.
“The conditions yesterday were normal standard San Francisco.”
Close to tears, Murray added: “The boat nosedived and all we know from that point in that manoeuvre is that the boat ended up upside down, capsized, broken into many pieces.
“All of the crew except for Bart (Simpson) were located immediately.
“It appears Bart was trapped under some of the solid sections of the yacht out of view, out of sight to the myriad of people on board trying to locate him including proper divers with apparatus.
“All of the crews on these boats have been trained in underwater and all carried oxygen and were meant to be prepared for the worst.
“Andrew was located eventually and administered with both care and support on the boat, on the chase boats and later at the docks at St Francis Yacht Club.
Murray confirmed a thorough investigation would be undertaken, saying: “We take the safety of our sport very seriously and respect the ocean at all times.
“What happened yesterday was not on the radar for any of us.”
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