Emsworth star’s sailing partner killed in America’s Cup crash

Great Britain's Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (left) competing in the first race of the day in the Star class at Weymouth last year
Great Britain's Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (left) competing in the first race of the day in the Star class at Weymouth last year

The Team GB sailing partner of Emsworth’s Iain Percy has died after a catamaran capsized during a training session for the America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay.

Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson - a double Olympic medallist with Percy - was one of an 11-man crew on board the Artemis Racing catamaran, according to the team website.

Mr Simpson, who is 36 and from Sherborne in Dorset, was trapped under the boat and efforts to revive him failed.

Artemis is a Swedish team due to take part in the America’s Cup.

Artemis Racing said: “It is with immense sadness that Artemis Racing confirms the tragic death of crew member Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson today in San Francisco.”

At a news conference by the Bay, Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard said it was a ‘tragic day’ for the crew.

Mr Simpson won the Olympic Star class gold with Percy - his Artemis team boss - in Beijing in 2008 and they took silver in London in 2012.

Artemis said that doctors afloat with the team tried unsuccessfully to revive the British sailor after he was freed from the wreckage.

Percy and Simpson won huge praise after adding to the sailing team’s medal haul at Weymouth last year. They were agonising close to taking their second successive gold medal.

John Derbyshire, who is the RYA’s performance director and also has Emsworth links, said: “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 told the BBC: “He was one of the group of three - Iain Percy and Bart who are life-long best friends and Ben Ainslie. I was lucky enough to start my coaching career with them when they were teenagers and got to form a bond with them that has stayed ever since.

“He’s been one of the top sailors, quite often in the shadow of Iain and Ben in some respects in the single handed side, but when he got the opportunity to sail with Iain in the 2008 Olympics in the Star class, he jumped at it and that friendship took Iain and him to their first gold medal and they were so close to defending it in London.”

Mr Simpson leaves a wife and young child.