Dorset Sailor Dies Off US Coast

An Olympic gold medal-winning sailor has died after a catamaran capsized during a training session for the America's Cup off the coast of California, his team said.

Andrew Simpson was sailing with the Swedish Artemis Racing team in San Francisco Bay ahead of this summer's America's Cup when the catamaran turned over and he became trapped underneath, a statement from Artemis Racing said last night.

The 36-year-old from Sherborne was one of 11 crew members on board the catamaran when it capsized at about 12.30pm local time.

He was trapped underwater by the catamaran's platform for about 10 minutes, but doctors both in the water and on the shore could not revive him after he was freed from the wreckage.

Artemis Racing said: "It is with immense sadness that Artemis Racing confirms the tragic death of crew member Andrew ''Bart`` Simpson in San Francisco.''

Artemis Racing chief executive Paul Cayard added: "The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened.

"Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family.''

Simpson won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver in last year's Games in London, both in the Star class.

Born in Chertsey, Surrey, he started sailing at the age of six with his father in Christchurch, Dorset, according to Tyler Sports Management.

Nicknamed Bart, he was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list.

Simpson was part of the Artemis Racing team that planned to challenge for the 34th America's Cup, and was the team's strategist.

He was sailing alongside his childhood friend and Olympic partner Iain Percy, who is Artemis' sailing team director and tactician.

Tributes poured in from the world of sailing and beyond.

In a statement the America's Cup said: "The thoughts of everyone involved with the America's Cup are with the family of Andrew Simpson and the members of Artemis Racing.

"Andrew was an immensely popular and respected member of the sailing community, and his two Olympic medals were testament to his talent.

"His easygoing personality made him loved by many; always friendly, always smiling and always supportive of others.''

The British Sailing Team said in a statement via Twitter: "We're devastated to confirm the death of Andrew Simpson after a training accident involving his Artemis Racing AC72 boat in San Francisco.''

The US Sailing Team tweeted its shock and sadness at the news, saying: "A tremendously sad day for the sport of sailing. Our thoughts are with the family of Olympic Champion Andrew Simpson, and Artemis Racing.''

Former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward wrote: "Totally shocked to hear Olympic star Andrew 'Bart' Simpson died after Swedish America's cup catamaran capsizes - thoughts with his family.''

A Foreign Office spokesman said it was aware of reports of the death of a British citizen and had contacted its counterparts in the United States.

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