Sailor dies in capsized America’s Cup boat

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(BCN)

A sailor who died after a catamaran associated with the America’s Cup race capsized in the Bay this afternoon has been identified as Andrew Simpson, a 36-year-old British two-time Olympic gold medalist in sailing.

The incident was reported just after 1 p.m. in the waters north of Treasure Island, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The vessel was the Artemis Racing AC-72, a 72-foot catamaran that belongs to the Swedish team participating in the America’s Cup, according to the team’s website. The Artemis Racing team is based in Alameda as they practice for the competition.

After the boat capsized, Simpson could not be located and was submerged in the water for 10 minutes, San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. When he was found and pulled from the Bay, he had no pulse and was not breathing.

A San Francisco Police Department boat was the first at the scene and an officer helped initiate CPR on Simpson, San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Simpson was taken to the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, where life-saving efforts continued for 20 minutes, Hayes-White said. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 1:43 p.m.

Another team member was also taken to the yacht club, where he was treated for a minor cut. All others on the boat were accounted for and returned to racing headquarters in Alameda, Hayes-White said.

The boat was towed to Treasure Island and is in the custody of the U.S. Coast Guard, Esparza said.

At a brief news conference at the team’s Alameda headquarters, Artemis CEO Paul Cayard said, “We obviously had a tragic day today on the Bay. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bart Simpson’s, Andrew Simpson’s, wife and kids and the rest of his teammates.”

The red flag of Artemis Racing flew at half-staff over Cayard’s head as he said it’s “a shocking experience to go through and we have a lot to deal with n the next few days in terms of insuring everyone’s well being.”

Authorities are still investigating what caused the vessel to capsize.

Hayes-White said it was “very windy” on the Bay today with winds of between 15 and 20 knots. However, she said, “I wouldn’t consider these extreme conditions.”

The activity on the water this afternoon was visible to some on shore.

Denise Srivastava, who lives on Marina Boulevard, said she saw a rescue boat speed away from the marina around 1 p.m.

“I’ve never seen a rescue boat go out that fast,” Srivastava said. “I knew it had to be something bad.”

Doug Iles also lives in the Marina District and owns a sailboat. He said “it was not a surprise” that another America’s Cup vessel capsized.

“The boats are very touchy,” Iles said. “It’s just a sad event.”

Another accident in preparation for September’s America’s Cup races was just last weekend, when the San Francisco-based American Youth Sailing Force had their boat capsize in the Bay during practice.

On Sunday the boat went under, however no one was injured and the boat did not sustain serious damage.

Team members, ages 19 to 24, will represent the U.S. in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup from Sept. 1-4.

The team is associated with Oracle Team USA, which will be hosting the America’s Cup regatta taking place in San Francisco from Sept. 7-22.

During a practice run last October, one of two Oracle Team USA boats flipped near the San Francisco Yacht Club.

No one was injured when the 72-foot catamaran capsized on Oct. 16, 2012, but the vessel was badly damaged when it was swept out to sea past the Golden Gate Bridge.

The boat was returned to shore the next day where the catamaran’s wing was found destroyed.

None of the incidents in the Bay Area have been fatal, but there has been at least one other death in training for the event when the race took place overseas several years ago, according to America’s Cup spokeswoman

Jane Eagleson.

America’s Cup officials are planning a news conference in San Francisco Friday to discuss today’s fatal accident.

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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