Other Sport

British Olympic champ killed

2013-05-10 09:01
Andrew "Bart" Simpson, right (AFP)

San Francisco - Tributes poured in for Olympic medal-winning Briton Andrew "Bart" Simpson, who died when a Swedish catamaran capsized on Thursday while training for the upcoming America's Cup races.

Simpson, who was 36, won gold in the keelboat star class at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and a silver in the same category at last year's London Games.

He died when he got trapped underwater after the Artemis Racing boat capsized in San Francisco Bay during training for the America's Cup races, which run from July through to September.

"We're devastated... Andrew is someone I've worked closely with since the age of 16. He was a great talent," said John Derbyshire, performance director of Britain's Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

"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."

The Briton - nicknamed after "The Simpsons" character - started sailing at the age of six, first in the Laser class before switching to the Finn single-handed class boat in his mid-20s.

He "plugged away for many years" behind British sailing colleagues Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy, a childhood friend, according to his Team GB profile for last year's London Olympics.

Simpson and Percy met when they were seven, and played Lego together when not sailing. Percy was best man at his wedding, according to the BBC.

Facing domination by Ainslie, Simpson teamed up with Percy in 2007 in the Star class and the duo won World Championship bronze.

The next year, they won gold in Beijing, and Simpson was honored with an MBE, a top royal honor in his homeland.

Simpson listed British cricket great Ian Botham as his sporting hero, and was a big fan of the Tottenham Hotspur football club.

The Swedish team announced his death on its website, saying he was "trapped underneath the boat and despite attempts to revive him, by doctors afloat and subsequently ashore, his life was lost."

He was a member of an 11-man crew aboard Artemis Racing's AC72 catamaran. All other crewmembers were accounted for.

Tributes were not confined to sailing colleagues.

Clive Woodward, former director of sport at the British Olympic Association, tweeted: "Totally shocked - thoughts with his family."

Olympic silver medalist windsurfer Nick Dempsey also took to Twitter to say: "Going to miss you Bart," while Luke Patience, a silver medalist yachtsman at London 2012, said: "Devastated. Bart, you are a true inspiration."

"Andrew was a fantastic sailor who got the best out of everyone he sailed with. He was much loved and will be sorely missed by everyone in our close-knit team," said RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park.

Artemis Racing chief executive Paul Cayard looked shell-shocked when he made a brief dockside statement in San Francisco, saying the whole team was "devastated by what happened."

"It's a shocking experience to go through, and we have a lot to deal with in the next few days in terms of assuring everybody's well-being," he said.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Caster Semenya has been nominated for the 2018 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. Which of the nominees deserves the award most?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.