British Olympian Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who earned gold and silver medals in the 2008 and 2012 Games before joining Swedish-owned Artemis Racing, drowned on May 9 after an Artemis AC72 capsized during a training run for the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.
Simpson was trapped beneath the 72-foot multihull for about 10 minutes. Doctors attempted CPR but were unable to revive him. He was 36 years old.
“The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened,” Paul Cayard, chief executive of Artemis, said in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”
A second Artemis team member, New Zealand native Craig Monk, received stitches for cuts on his knuckles. He was treated and released from a hospital in the San Francisco Bay area.
It is unclear what caused the Artemis capsize, which was the second major accident involving an AC72 design in less than a year. In October 2012, an Oracle Team USA multihull capsized during training and was extensively damaged. The boats can achieve speeds greater than 40 knots, which is why crew wear crash helmets and other protective gear. Some sailors have stated publicly that the designs are overpowered and outright dangerous.
Traditionally, slower monohull yachts have been used to compete for the America’s Cup. That tradition was upended when team owner Larry Ellison and Golden Gate Yacht Club won the 2010 Cup in a multihull with an innovative wing mainsail, a design that proved not only fast but also more television-friendly in terms of its dramatic looks under way.
Artemis Racing is one of three teams challenging for the Cup this year in San Francisco. Updates are being posted at www.americascup.com.