America's Cup boat nosedived, broke into pieces

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm •  Published: May 10, 2013
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The America's Cup catamaran that capsized in San Francisco Bay, killing an Olympic gold medalist, nosedived during a difficult maneuver and broke into many pieces, an official said Friday.

The Artemis was conducting a maneuver that required it to change direction when it capsized on Thursday, America's Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray said.

The boat was practicing with the Oracle team.

"Artemis and Oracle were out there training in what they had been doing for months," Murray said. "And looking frankly quite good."

Murray said the maneuver involved changing direction and wind flow across the boat. Though difficult, it was normal, he said.

Coast Guard Lt. Jeannie Crump has said Coast Guard officials weren't sure what caused the boat to capsize. San Francisco police said they will lead the investigation.

Andrew "Bart" Simpson, 36, was submerged underwater for more than 10 minutes when the vessel capsized. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Murray said Simpson was on a trampoline on the windward side of the yacht with crew members and got trapped under some of the solid sections of the yacht, out of site to those on board who were looking for him.

"How he got to where he got to we do not know," Murray said.

Simpson had collected an Olympic gold medal in sailing in 2008 and a silver medal at last year's games when Artemis Racing came calling with a chance to win yachting's top prize — the America's Cup.

"Moving the family to San Fran for 6 months is pretty hectic!!!," Simpson tweeted in March. "The cup should be fun though!!"

As the strategist for the Swedish team, he was involved in all decision-making on the boat and participated in trimming the sails.

"The entire Artemis team is devastated by what happened," CEO Paul Cayard said in a statement on the team's website. "Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family."

Cayard didn't take questions during a brief news conference Thursday evening and didn't return telephone calls.

The British Olympic Association described Simpson as a "treasured and accomplished member" of its teams.

"Andrew Simpson was a hugely accomplished sailor and Olympian," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, a former Olympic sailor from Belgium, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "He died pursuing his sporting passion."

British newspapers reported that Simpson is survived by a wife and an infant child.

Artemis Racing said doctors "afloat" with the team and on shore were unable to revive Simpson after he was freed from the wreckage. Another sailor suffered minor injuries, and the rest of the crew of about 11 people was accounted for and taken back to their dock in Alameda.

Officials said winds were blowing between 15 and 20 knots (17 to 23 mph) when the boat capsized. The National Weather Service later issued a small-craft advisory, warning inexperienced mariners to stay off the bay and indicating winds of between 21 knots and 33 knots.

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