British Olympic sailor dies in training accident | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 10.05.2013
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British Olympic sailor dies in training accident

British Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson has died in a training accident in San Francisco Bay. Friends and colleagues paid tribute to the gold medal winner, who was preparing for this year's America's Cup.

Simpson, 36, was one of an 11-man crew on board the Swedish Artemis Racing catamaran. He drowned when the vessel capsized in San Francisco Bay on Thursday during training for the America's Cup. He was trapped underneath the vessel and did not respond to efforts by rescue teams to revive him.

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Olympic sailor killed in training accident

Simpson's 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 said.

Artemis Racing chief executive Paul Cayard said: "It's a shocking experience to go through, and we have a lot to deal with in the next few days in terms of assuring everybody's well being."

Royal Yacht Association and British Sailing Team performance director, John Derbyshire, issued a statement saying: "We're devastated by the news from San Francisco." He added: "Andrew is someone I've worked closely with since the age of 16 - he was a great talent, and a key figure in our world class programme over many years, culminating in his well-deserved Olympic success."

"He was a huge inspiration to others, both within the British Sailing Team and across the nation and our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this terrible time," Derbyshire said.

Simpson won gold in the Star class, for smaller boats, with Iain Percy at the 2008 Olympics and silver at the 2012 London games. The Star class was dropped from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, so Simpson had opted to take part in the America's Cup competition.

The 34th America's Cup is scheduled to have over 55 days of racing in San Francisco, starting in July.

jm/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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